The Malta Independent 17 July 2019, Wednesday

Remaining €2.9 million stolen in BOV cyber attack found in Hong Kong

Albert Galea Thursday, 9 May 2019, 18:17 Last update: about 3 months ago

Legal proceedings underway to recover money/Bank of Valletta declares €71.2 million profit for 2018 financial year

The remaining €2.9 million which was stolen in a cyber attack on Bank of Valletta last February has been found in Hong Kong, and the bank’s lawyers are opening legal proceedings in that country to recover the money, Bank of Valletta chairman Taddeo Scerri said at the bank’s annual general meeting.

Around €13 million was stolen from BOV last February after a cyber attack hit the bank, forcing it to shut down its entire grid.  The bank came back online the following day, and since then €10 million of that which was stolen has been recovered. 

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While the cyber attack was not brought up during the speeches of Scerri and of CEO Mario Mallia, questioned by bank shareholders, Scerri revealed that the remaining €2.9 million which had been stolen has been located and every effort was being made to recover it.

Scerri told shareholders that had it not been for the immediate response of BOV staff to decide to immediately cease all overseas transactions, the attackers would have stolen much more than €13 million.

He said that the bank has brought in global experts to help strengthen the bank’s IT and security infrastructure while an IT Overview Committee was also set up to oversee this process.  Scerri assured that the bank is today in a position where it can meet and beat back similar attacks.

In his speech, Mallia spoke of how the bank was going to have a more restricted risk appetite in the coming year, and said that it would be closing trusts and custody while also ending their relationship with thousands of customers which are over the said risk appetite.  He said that the bank would no longer be considering clients with no connection to Malta.

The bank declared a profit of €71.2 million after taking into account its litigation provision.  The total profit prior to the litigation provision being taken into consideration was that of €146.2 million, which was equivalent to a 9.9% return on equity – significantly higher than the 7.3% average registered by banks in the Eurozone.

Client deposits rose by €314 million, equivalent to 3.1%, to a total of €10.4 billion while the bank’s assets rose by €326 million, meaning that these assets now stand at €12 billion. The bank’s total equity currently stands at €994 million.

Mallia described the year as one of growth despite a number of challenges which were faced.

“We experienced a sustained request for lending, especially in the mortgages sector with a number of business areas, including investment services, credit cards and payments registering substantial growth,” he said.

“Priority will continue to be given to the conservation and strengthening of the Group’s Capital,” Scerri meanwhile said. ‘The Bank will emphasise on long-term sustainability and stability – hence the Board of Director’s decision not to pay a cash dividend this year. Nonetheless shareholders will benefit from a bonus share issue of 1 new share for every 10 shares held for a total value exceeding €53 million at current market price’, he said.

Shareholders voted in favour of the release of these bonus shares, which means that the bank’s capital will go up from €530 million to €583 million.

No election of Directors was held during the Annual General Meeting, meaning that the Bank’s board of directors is composed of Taddeo Scerri as Chairman, Stephen Agius, Paul V. Azzopardi, Miguel Borg, James Grech, Alfred Lupi, Mario Mallia, Anita Mangion, Antonio Piras, and Joseph M. Zrinzo.

 

Photos: Alenka Falzon

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