Monday, October 31, 2011

Ecobank Employee Dragged to Court for Fiddling Clients’ Accounts

Victoria Mendy, a former employee of Ecobank, was on Monday dragged to the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court, presided over by Magistrate Alagbe, for allegedly fiddling accounts and squandering funds of customers of the bank.

When the case was called for hearing, one Lamin Sanyang, who identified himself at the court as a resident of Lamin and works at Ecobank Gambia Limited head office on Kairaba Avenue as Head of Operations and Technology.

Mr Sanyang said the fraudulent act took place from 1 August 2010 to 17 January 2011.
He told the court that sometime in December 2010, a customer of the bank by the name Francis Hary Faye, complained that there were some unauthorised withdrawals from his account. “It was at this point that Mr Faye, Torres Sarr-Tupan - our legal person, and I had a meeting,” he said.


“At the meeting, Mr Faye told us that Victoria Mendy, our staff, visited his office and confessed that she was messing up with his (Mr Faye’s) account.” 

He said further that Mr Faye told Victoria that she was not the one that had messed up with his account but Ecobank. 

Mr Sanyang told the court: “It was at this stage I arranged to meet Victoria at Westfield branch and then interrogated her. The interrogation was documented and signed by Victoria and myself. This was on January 4, 2011 - if my memory serves me well.  The meeting was witnessed by the Westfield branch manager.”
The interrogation document was tendered at the court and marked as Exhibit A.

Continuing with his testimony, Mr Sanyang said:  “It was at that juncture that we were going to forward the case to the police but Victoria Mendy asked us to allow her to call her aunty. After 30 - 45 minutes, the aunty appeared with the husband and they confirmed that Victoria had reported herself to the family and the family was making arrangement to settle the issue by paying the money. We insisted that we were going to report the matter to the police, which we did that very day.”

Mr Sanyang told the court that prior to that they had a disciplinary meeting with Victoria Mendy and she confessed and accepted that she had done wrong.

“What is that,” asked police prosecutor chief inspector Darboe, who wanted to be clear about the crime committed by Victoria.  “That was moving funds from customers’ accounts in order to balance her teller tin,” Mr Sanyang responded.  “We asked her whether she knew that was not the normal practice of balancing teller tin and she replied in the affirmative but she said she was doing that to help move funds to somebody’s account so that the person could have enough money for visa application, but the person fraudulently withdrew the money.” 

He said Victoria was asked by the police to reveal the name of the person, and she disclosed that the person is called Alasan Sumareh. 

The police then arranged for Alasan Sumareh to meet them at the fraud squad office.  Later on, while at the fraud squad office, Mr Sumareh said Victoria asked him to do a favour of funding or replenishing her teller shortage.  However, Mr Sumareh was later exonerated by Victoria at the fraud squad office when she also confessed that Sumareh was actually helping her instead. 

“Then following that, we have been receiving series of complaints of the same nature as Mr Hary Faye’s and we also had complaint of deposit suppression which in simple terms means hiding moneys that were given to Victoria for deposit but she never deposited them,” Mr Sanyang explained.
“One example of those complainants came from Kanbeng Kaffo.  We had about 15 of this type of complaints; the last one was on 24th August 2011.”

Sanyang told the court that along the line, the internal auditor of the bank carried an investigation on Victoria’s transaction from 15 August 2010 to 6 January 2011.  The result of the investigation showed what Ecobank was liable for due to Victoria’s discrepancies, he said, adding that the audit was conducted by the former head of internal audit of the bank, Haruna John, who is no more with the bank.

He explained that Victoria’s case was reported to an agency called Toplink, who brought and recommended her to work for Ecobank.

“The audit report and a letter, prepared by myself through the HR department of the bank, were sent to Toplink,” Sanyang explained.

When asked how Kanbeng Kaffo lodged their complaint to the bank, he said the Kaffo went to the bank to deposit their funds but to their surprise the account was never opened even though they did give the opening cash of the account to the Ecobank Westfield branch, adding that it was indeed given to Victoria who told them the account would be opened later and the money would be deposited there.  “Unfortunately the account was never opened,” he said.

He continued: "Then we carried out an investigation by going through our normal withdrawal and deposit procedure and then it was proven beyond doubt that the customer never authorised any withdrawal of funds given to the bank, whilst funds were never deposited to the customer’s account. 

“For every single withdrawal it goes with a cheque or deposit ticket or authorised order from the account holder or signatories and in Victoria’s transaction, none of these were there.”

The report of the internal auditor, the letter to Toplink, the letter from Kanbeng Kaffo and the payment made by Ecobank to customers whose funds where tampered with by Victoria, where tendered at the court but the defence council, Barrister Kebba Sanyang, objected to them be marked as exhibits.

He said the documents were all copies, not originals. The prosecutor then withdrew the documents and applied for adjournment.

There was no objection to the application for adjournment so the case was adjourned until 2 November 2010 for the defendant to produce originals of the documents.

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