Banking fraud: Rs7.6 million withdrawn on un-signed cheque

ISLAMABAD: A bank account holder is fortunate to get back an amount of Rs7.6 million on the intervention of Banking Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Pakistan. The amount was fraudulently withdrawn from the account on a foraged cheque and the branch manager was found involved in the fraud.

A case related to cash withdrawn on forged cheque is reported in the fifteenth Annual Report of Banking Mohtasib Pakistan for the year ending 31 December 2019.

The report said that the complainant was maintaining a joint account with his wife with operational instructions “Either or Survivor” since December 18, 2012.

“They had neither applied for a cheque book nor any cheque book was ever delivered to them, yet an amount of Rs 7.600 (M) was withdrawn from their account without their consent and knowledge.

“The Complainant demanded refund, but the Bank paid no heed to his request.

“Complainant, therefore, lodged a complaint with the Banking Mohtasib.”

The Bank was asked to submit detailed investigation report along with copies of AOF, SS Card, KYC, disputed cheque No. 105805316 for Rs 7,600,000/- dated 21.04.2017 (both sides), statement of account and cheque book issuance request and delivery proof thereof.

The Bank provided the requisite documents. On examination of the provided documents it was found that: According to the Complainant, they had never applied for issuance of any cheque book at any time.

“From the Cheque book requisition request it was observed that the signature thereon was clearly different from the signature of Complainant recorded on his AOF and S. S. Card. Clearly, therefore, the cheque book was issued against a fake signature,” the report said.

On perusal of cheque dated 21-04-2017 for Rs 7.600 (M), it was observed that it was not signed at all.

As per Complainant, the cheque was not mandated. It was obvious that the Bank cleared the unsigned cheque which was a nullity in law.

Further, neither any Call-back Confirmation was done nor could the Bank explain in its defence as to how payment was made on a cheque which was void under law and not a cheque at all.

The payment of huge sum of Rs 7.600 (M) in cash was also surprising.

Due to the seriousness of the lapses on the part of the Bank, the case was set for a formal hearing on May 2, 2019 at our Regional Office, Rawalpindi.

The Bank’s representative produced related Cheque Book Requisition slip (CBR) along with paid cheque.

On examination of CBR it was observed that a cheque book of five leaves, bearing number 105805316 to 105805320, was issued on April 21, 2017.

The signature on CBR did not match with the signature of the Complainant available in the Bank’s record i.e. AOF & S. S. Card, whereas the Cheque number 105805316 dated 21-04-2017 against which payment of Rs 7,600,000/- was made found to be un- signed.

On further scrutiny it was observed that cash recipient’s signatures were also not available on the back of the cheque as well as denominational details were also not furnished on the back of the cheque as against general banking practice.

Moreover, the Bank also failed to provide any record of Call-back Confirmation (CBC) to the Account-holder as per its own SOP as the cheque was of a very large sum and payment had to be made in cash.

The Bank officials submitted that the Ex-Branch Manager, who was involved in this scam, has absconded and the Bank has lodged a report with the FIA after its initial enquiry.

It is a well settled principle of law that the employer is vicariously liable for any fraud or other wrong doing of his employee committed in the course of his employment, whether for the benefit of the employer or not.

In view of the above findings and as admitted position, it was concluded that the Complainant is entitled for his lump sum claim of Rs 7,600,000/- from the Bank.

Therefore, the Bank was advised to forthwith refund the sum of Rs 7,600,000/- to the Complainant.

The Bank subsequently, filed representation with the President Islamic Republic of Pakistan against the Order passed by the Banking Mohtasib under Section 14 of Federal Ombudsmen Institutions Reforms Act – 2013 (FOIRA) where the Order of Banking Mohtasib was up-held.

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