The North Korean connection in a brazen R300-million heist in Japan, which used stolen data from Standard Bank, has been confirmed in a new report.
The mastermind of the 2016 operation – which involved more than 100 people – fled to North Korea afterwards.
The group is believed to have used counterfeit credit cards stolen or leaked from Standard Bank to steal the money.
It has now been confirmed that the alleged mastermind behind a syndicate which stole 1.8 billion yen, or roughly R302 million at current exchange rates, in Japan by using data stolen from Standard Bank, fled to North Korea, the Japanese newswire Kyodo News reported this weekend.
In 2016, the man lead a group of people who used counterfeit credit cards stolen or leaked from Standard Bank to withdraw large amounts from convenience-store ATMs in 17 areas across the country, including Tokyo.
The Atlantic reported that more than 100 people were believed to have been involved in the operation which took place over two hours on 15 May 2016.
Around 1 700 automated teller machines at 1 600 convenience stores were targeted.
The mastermind fled to North Korea by way of China shortly after, investigators have now determined.
Last year, Nippon.com reported that United Nations Security Council panel found that North Korea may have been involved in the incident.
Standard Bank told Business Insider South Africa that they are unable to comment as investigations are ongoing, and directed enquiries to the relevant authorities.
Japanese police have been working with South African police during its investigations. It said over 260 people have been arrested in relation to the incident, the Japan Times reported.
Standard Bank has partnered with Founders Factory Africa to grow businesses across Africa.
Corporates can play a more significant role in working with small businesses to stimulate economic growth and job creation across the continent.
Nadia Oshry is a Senior Manager at Standard Bank’s Moonshots division which looks to launch new disruptive financial services businesses into the African market
Oshry said, “Founders Factory is a unique, corporate-backed incubator and accelerator model that was launched in 2016. In the UK, corporates such as L’Oreal, EasyJet, Marks & Spencer and Aviva have signed on and already benefitted from this model. Together, they have grown 96 start-ups across 20 countries and raised over GBP 117mil for the portfolio”.
“Standard Bank with Founders Factory Africa will be launching and scaling 140 disruptive tech-enabled businesses across the continent within the next five years. It will also work towards enhancing the formal start-up culture in key African cities,” adds Oshry.
This development is in stark contrast to the current environment in which it is more common for Fintech start-ups and ‘Big Tech’ Corporates to act as competitors in the marketplace. In an environment where job creation is critical, bigger companies often trade off increased jobs with enhanced efficiency. Examples include Uber that has traditionally provided an alternate model for employing drivers, but is now focused on creating self-driving cars. Amazon is developing drone delivery to replace traditional courier models.
“Founders Factory is but one example of a new way of working that aligns incentives between Corporates and start-ups. With a change in mindset and through innovative new business models, large Corporates can contribute substantially to growing the small businesses in our continent and changing our economic landscape,” Oshry said.
As an investor, Standard Bank has a vested interest in leveraging its African footprint across 22 countries and unique assets to help the businesses scale.
“Start-ups dream of the distribution capabilities and scale of corporates; while corporates wish that they had the agility of startups. It is when these players stop competing and form strategic alliances that the real magic happens,” concludes Oshry.
Bad customer service is a frustrating experience for everyone, but who would think of crashing their car into a building?
A woman in Boksburg drove her vehicle into a Standard Bank branch after apparently waiting for several hours to be served.
The woman crashed the Mercedes Benz into the glass walls of the branch after she had an argument with a bank teller regarding money withdrawal, News24 reported.
In a statement from Standard Bank obtained by TimesLIVE, the bank would not give details about the incident but only said that “the client was served in a professional manner and in line with client-service procedures. The query was of a complex nature.”
The bank said that while nobody was hurt, counselling had been offered to those affected by the incident.
South Africa’s jobs bloodbath is raging with Standard Bank today announcing that the restructuring of its IT division will see more than 500 workers sacrificed.
Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom says of the impacted permanent staff, the majority are in the executive and managerial bands.
“This process will result in 526 IT employees receiving Section 189 notices which will commence the consultative process with the employees involved”.
“This process will create over 180 new-generation IT positions within the bank. Regrettably, this will also result in the loss of a number of existing traditional IT positions,” Linstrom said.
The bank said the restructuring was instigated by “emerging technologies and increased demands from customers”.
The unrelenting jobs bloodbath seems to be gathering steam. Power Utility Eskom has already announced plans to cut its workforce, the SABC has said it would have to let go of more than 1 000 workers for it to keep afloat. Telkom’s subsidiary BCX last week also joined the bandwagon and warned that it will retrench about 700 employees.
Ironically, as part of stemming the jobs bloodbath, all stakeholders at the Jobs Summit held last month had committed themselves to concrete steps to avoid retrenchments and support struggling companies.
The EFF has criticised South Africa’s major banks, calling them opportunistic and hypocritical “in their testimony given to the state capture inquiry”.
Standard Bank’s retired head of legal testified at the inquiry on Monday giving reasons that led the bank deciding to close the business accounts of the controversial Gupta family.
Former FirstRand Group – which First National Bank (FNB) is a division of – chief executive officer (CEO) Johan Burger is testifying at the commission today.
“These banks were very happy to do business with the Guptas until the unceremonious December 2015 removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister when South African stocks were severely devalued,” the EFF said in a statement.
The red berets added that by the time of Nene’s axing, the Guptas and former president Jacob Zuma – who are commonly referred to as the Zuptas – were already carrying out corrupt activities “facilitated by the very same banks”.
The EFF said: “It is impossible that the banks only started to notice the suspicious transactions of the Guptas and their companies in 2016 as they now want us to believe.
“The truth is that these banks colluded in the looting of the country for as long as it was feeding into their profit maximisation motives and greed. These are the only driving forces behind the commercial banks. For them, it’s profit before people and the country.”
The party said it hopes the chair of the commission Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo would not be fooled by the testimony of the banks.
“We call on the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) and the Financial Intelligence Centre to launch a separate probe into the complicity of South African banks in the Gupta state capture and why they turned a blind eye towards an obviously suspicious transactions before 2016 and to hold them accountable for their part in state capture,” the EFF said.
The party added that if the Sarb fails to institute such a probe the party would take it upon itself to initiate a parliamentary probe into the matter.
Meanwhile, Burger testified on Tuesday that FNB had closed the accounts of the Guptas due to associated reputational and business risks.
Standard Bank has denied that it has opened a bank account associated with the Gupta family.
It was reported earlier on Tuesday that the top-4 bank had agreed to open bank accounts for business rescue practitioners controlling seven Gupta companies.
However, Standard Banks spokesperson Ross Lindstrom has said the bank terminated all dealings with the Gupta family and all entities controlled by it with effect from June 2016, and that that decision still stood.
Earlier, business rescue practitioner Louis Klopper confirmed that Standard Bank had agreed to open a new account‚ with strict conditions limiting access only to Klopper and his partner practitioner‚ Kurt Knoop.
Klopper said this had been a crucial stumbling block to getting the Gupta companies‚ particularly the four mines owned by the family‚ back up and running.
However, in an e-mail to Business Day, Linstrom said on behalf of the bank: “Standard Bank of SA has not opened and will not open accounts with these companies. Any impression created to the contrary was created by an employee that was acting out of mandate.
“Communication between the employee and [Klopper] was not authorised and did not follow the internal processes of the bank. Disciplinary procedures are currently under way.”
The Gupta family has had to make do with facilities at the Bank of Baroda — a relationship that has deteriorated since the bank started to come under pressure from the Reserve Bank over the large number of suspicious transactions the Gupta family were processing.
On February 16 the directors of Gupta-owned Tegeta filed for business rescue‚ placing Optimum‚ Koornfontein and Brakfontein coal mines in Mpumalanga, as well as Shiva Uranium in the North West, under Klopper’s control.
Property investment companies Confident Concepts and Islandsite Investments 180 were also placed under business rescue.
The mines employ roughly 3 000 people‚ most of whom went on strike when salaries were not paid on February 25. The permanent staff‚ about 1 500 people‚ were paid last week.
An internationally co-ordinated fraud attack involving forged bank cards used at ATMs in Japan has stripped Standard Bank of about R300-million.
Standard Bank and authorities remained mum on the progress of investigations and the whereabouts of the syndicate, as investors appeared largely unconcerned by the bank’s loss.
Spokesman Ross Linstrom of Standard Bank, which made just more than R22-billion in headline earnings across the group in 2015, said on Monday a sophisticated and co-ordinated syndicate had created a “small number of fictitious cards” and proceeded to draw a total amount of R300-million from ATMs in Japan.
He said investigations were at a sensitive stage, but that bank customers would suffer no adverse effects if their details had been stolen and used in the Japanese fraud.
Japanese media have reported that about 100 individuals hit 1 400 ATMs in just three hours on a day when banks are closed for business, with one withdrawal transaction at each ATM up to the daily limit amount set in Japan.
According to Japanese media, no arrests have been made and the individuals who made the withdrawals may no longer be in the country.
The fraud fits an international trend involving hit-and-run withdrawal schemes in which fraudsters may be jetting into countries in different time zones to buy themselves time to collect the cash and run.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre confirmed the Standard Bank matter was under investigation, and CEO Kalyani Pillay said the local industry would provide full support to both the bank and law enforcement, where possible.
“The industry’s card losses for 2015 were in the region of R778-million across all card types for South African-issued cards.
“This was a 4% decrease compared to 2014. Banks have robust systems in place to monitor and detect fraud, but some risks lie with bank clients themselves,” Pillay says
Southern African Fraud Prevention Services executive director Manie van Schalkwyk said his organisation stops about R3-billion in fraud every year.
“Identity fraud is declining, and the main reason is the use of biometrics,” he says.
Van Schalkwyk said banks were making use of various databases and methods to try keep up with and combat such fraud, as criminals continued to evolve their modus operandi.