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The following should aptly summarise the sophistry that characterized what should rate as Nigeria’s most ingenious white collar crime if it had been uncovered earlier than when it was quickly hushed up and papered over. Here is a brief narrative:
Transglobe Finance and Investment Company Limited was the stock broking firm to the Shell Petroleum […

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Mr. Aderinokun, MD-GTBank

Mr. Aderinokun, MD-GTBank

A long standing corporate customer (name withheld) of GTBank was non-plussed when it received a letter from the bank demanding the repayment of a supposed debt to the bank totaling N334,120,241.05.

In a letter dated August 2, 2008 and addressed to the customer, Jumoke Adekola and Sarah Ugamah, both of the legal department of the GTBank, forcefully asserted the failure of the customer to regularize his account: “We note with displeasure that despite our demand, you have failed, refused and neglected to regularize your account as requested,” the two legal department staff that signed the letter noted. “The outstanding debit balance in your account as at today is N334,120,241.05 and interest continues to accrue at the ruling market rate,” Adekola and Ugamah said in the letter.

Giving a demand ultimatum on the repayment of the debt, the two insisted: “Please, take this as our final demand that you fully liquidate your indebtedness to the Bank by paying the outstanding balance on your account within seven days from the date of this letter.”

The duo further threatened: “Please, note that if you do not pay up the amount outstanding at the expiration of this period, we will be compelled under banking regulations to report the state of your account to the Credit Risk Management System Bureau of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“In addition, we shall explore all legal avenues to recover the debt, including but not limited to instituting winding up proceedings against your company, this we shall do without further recourse to you,” the GTBank’s letter further threatened.

The Bank might have noticed its gaffe when the enraged and apparently embarrassed customer replied the demand letter for liquidation of indebtedness. In the reply dated August 5, 2008, the customer observed: “We confirm that we have an established banking relationship with GTBank Plc for more than three years now and were recently granted a N700million facility for which we are yet to draw down.

“It was therefore with disbelief and shock that we received your letter purportedly demanding that we repay the sum of N334,120,241.05 within seven days from the date of this letter.”

The customer then cleared the fact that it owed the bank no money by affirming that: “For the avoidance of any doubt, we hereby state categorically that we did not undertake ANY transaction with the bank that relates to the contents of the aforesaid letter.

“We believe that the letter must have been wrongly addressed or an error/fraud committed in/with your bank and hope that you will urgently look into the matter and ensure that our good name and relationship is restored.”

Banking experts their expressed their views on the near recklessness of GTBank’s letter to its customer argued that the Bank was unprofessional in its approach to raising demand for repayment.

“Let’s even assume that the customer was indebted to the Bank, is it not proper that such an obviously high net worth customer be approached informally in person to person discussion to resolve the issue?” the banking expert argued.

“I think that is a better procedure than the official threats contained in the letter. I suspect that something must have gone seriously wrong in the Bank’s operations for such a mistake of identity to have occurred,” the expert observed.

Another expert counseled that this provides another reason for banks’ customers to constantly review their statements of account if need be with accountants and forensic accounting expert.

“This shows clearly that a customer can be wrongly debited through the error or deliberate machination of an insider,” the expert observed.

Customer Protests e-Banking Fraud at GTBank

 When Mr. Friday Musa, made the extra effort to track sums of money allegedly illegally transferred from his account with GTBank to two accounts with the same bank, he thought he had resolved his banking woes that had made him about N1million poorer. The resolution of his tiff with the bank over the illegally transferred fund was no near resolution even as he presented argument that since there were evidence that the money fraudulently transferred from his account can be tracked to accounts within the bank should have made it easier for the bank to investigate the fraud and refund him his money accordingly.

Musa’s one million naira travail commenced this past Sunday, 6 July, 2008 when he noticed that his email password was not functional. According to Musa, he had rushed to the Opebi-Ikeja branch of the bank where he usually conducted his banking services, on Monday 7 July, 2008, to inform the appropriate official of his fears and suspicion over the non functionality of his email password.

“I was directed to an officer in the bank branch who took my complaint after which he gave me an update form for a new email password.” Musa said. “I had sincerely thought that the email password malfunction was just a mere glitch so I thought nothing of it after I had filled the update and was rest assured the password would have changed.”

“But three days there after, I was at the bank to make some withdrawals from my account only to be told I could not make withdrawal of the sum I required. I was told that four transactions involving withdrawals had been illegally conducted on my account via the internet banking platform of the bank, even as I was informed that the email password change that I had earlier requested had not been effected.”

The simple explanation of the banking troubles of Musa is that he had fallen victim of e-banking. e-banking is supposed to be a convenient banking platform that enables a bank customer to transfer funds at anytime of the day from his account to another accounts or other accounts.

Musa said he did not make such transaction and was even more bewildered when no SMS Alert of the transactions was sent to his mobile phone as it is the practice with GTBank.

Musa’s account was systematically raided between Friday 4 July, 2008 and Sunday 6 July 2008. Naturally, Musa took issue with the bank through a letter dated 10 July 2007. In the letter, he insisted that he did not conduct any form of e-banking transaction during this period and pleaded with the bank to HELP him out of the trouble.

GTBank, through a letter dated 14 July, 2008 gave a terse response to Musa’s pleas. Enyinna Mbagwu and Lanre Kasim, signatories to the letter informed Musa that after conducting an investigation occasioned by Musa’s letter, they were able to ascertain that the sum of N250,000 was debited to the account on 4 July, while on 7 July, three debits were made on the account: N249,000, N250,000, and another N250,000 totaling N999,000. They explained that online transactions done on weekends and other non-working days usually have a value date of the next working day. This addendum might have been highlighted in the letter to explain the fact that the notification of the need to change password made by Musa on the made he reported the malfunction of his email password to the Opebi branch of the bank was belated.

The authors of the bank’s letter to Musa further submitted that the internet transfers were made using his profile.

“To this end, we believe your details must have been compromised…In view of the above, we regret to inform you that the bank cannot accede to your request of a refund of N999,000…Please accept our sympathy on your loss.” The letter concluded just before sarcastically thanking Musa for his continuous patronage of the bank.

But then, Musa won’t be assuaged. “See, I suspected something suspicious was going on because I had always refused the e-banking platform just as I detested using even the ATM, I like to be conservative about my banking transactions because of my fears of fraudulent issue like this.” Musa opined

“Now knowing that I may not be able to make any headway with the bank this way, I demanded that they should track the transfers. At least, that should be simple enough, this is different from a cash withdrawal where the fraudulent person would have taken the money and walked out of the bank into thin air. In this case, the bank can easily track which account the money was transferred to and identify the owner(s) of the account. But GTbank refused to budge in this regard. To effect this, I asked my lawyer to write them resulting in the lawyer’s dispatch to the bank on 22 July, 2008 only for them to reply by a letter of 7 August, 2008 that merely asserted their earlier position on the matter.

“My worry now is that I am sure the money was transferred from my account to other accounts domiciled in GTBank and all I expect them to do is to investigate these accounts and come up with conclusion. If they are reluctant to do these they should simply refund my money so I can concentrate on my business. The distraction is affecting me negatively.” Musa said.

When Fortune and Class Weekly sought to check the allegation with the corporate affairs department of the bank, the front office officials insisted that was no need to see anybody at the corporate affairs department because the matter was a private issue between the bank and its customer, and it is our believe that Mr. Tayo Aderinokun, GTBank’s MD, will not be all pleased about this.