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EFCC Swoops on First Bank Staffers who steal from wealthy customers

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EFCC Swoops on First Bank Staffers who steal from wealthy customers

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission swooped in on First Bank employees whose expertise is stealing from wealthy customers.

For more than a century, First Bank has been the most trusted bank in the country for many consumers. Traders, civil servants, and artisans relied on the financial behemoth in those good times to keep their money secure while they slept soundly.

According to the ENigeria Newspaper, things have changed dramatically in recent years, if not for the worse, under the watchful eye of the current Chief Executive Officer, Adesola Adeduntan, because keeping money in First Bank has become a high risk, to the point where customers must now be vigilant at all times to ensure that bank employees working with fraudsters do not empty their accounts behind their backs.

The trust deficit has reached such alarming levels that some First Bank thieving employees are taking advantage of desperate customers who come to them for help when they notice their accounts are vulnerable to criminals, resulting in a pattern of incessant withdrawals from customers’ accounts, the majority of which have had psychological effects on the customers.

The House of Representatives has begun amending the Bank Employees (Declaration of Assets), BEDA Act 2004, which prescribes a slap on the wrist punishment for fraudulent bank employees, in order to put an end to the continuous thievery perpetrated by these devious First Bank employees and their counterparts in other financial establishments.

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According to ENigeria Newspaper recent checks, the amendment bill, which is now in Committee Stage, proposes a minimum of a 20-year prison sentence for bank employees and fund managers who commit fraud while on the job.

Francis Waive, the bill’s sponsor, stated a few days ago that in recent times bank staff live opulent lifestyles thanks to the ill-gotten money they steal from depositors. He explained that the level of bank theft has reached an alarming level, and that the situation must not be allowed to continue.

Consider the case of a customer who sought assistance from his branch of First Bank after his ATM card was seized by armed bandits who invaded his Kano home.

After the heist, the first thing that sprang to mind was to rush to his “trusted” bank, which, in his thinking, would do all possible to ensure that the criminals did not have access to the money in his account via the stolen ATM card.

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However, it turned out that the bank he went to for help was not unlike the criminals who had put him in this difficult predicament in the first place.

“It’s quite unfortunate that a bank could put a needy customer in peril while he’s still dealing with the grief of what armed robbers have taken from him.”

The intriguing story began on February 6 of last year, when Mailafia Mohammed, a First Bank customer, was attacked at his home by suspected armed men who, after robbing him of his possessions, also took his phone.
The incident jolted Mohammed, who raced to his branch to alert them of his dilemma and the necessity for the bank to freeze his account since his phone was also stolen during the robbery incident.

When he arrived at his Kano branch of First Bank, he described what had transpired to the branch manager, who assured him that there was nothing to worry about and that he should keep using the account.

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“At this time, one would have expected the bank to do all that is necessary to flag the account in case anybody wants to gain access to it. This is so because the customer had already raised an alarm which should have prompted the bank to act, particularly considering that the account contains a huge amount,” Ismail said.

From all indications, the bank did not take any preventive action even after the manager had told the customer to go home that the problem had been taken care of. It was based on that assurance that Mohammed went back to the bank, 12 days after to withdraw money from the same account.

What happened shocked him, after he learnt that a huge sum had been withdrawn from his account.
The account had been drawn down by a whopping N47 million barely two weeks after the First Bank branch manager assured him that his deposit will not be tampered with.

Coincidentally, Kadiri’s submission was right because it was later discovered that those that stole N47 million from the account were not outsiders but two employees of the bank.

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“What happened after the customer lodged an official complaint clearly showed two things; it is either some employees of the bank are working together with the robbers; it could also be that the bank did not act when the customer went to them for help. Either way, the bank management cannot absolve itself of culpability considering the manner the theft was executed. Besides, it will not be difficult to begin to connect the dots,” said Toyin Kadiri, a forensic expert in Lagos.

How did they carry out the insider ‘operation’? No sooner Mohammed reported to the bank that his phone had been stolen, the two staff quickly went to work by obtaining all the information concerning the customer after which they also obtained an Automated Teller Machine, ATM card which they used to withdraw the money.

Whether the crooked staff committed the heinous act in connivance with the manager, no one can tell, but those that know said what happened is laced with so much coincidence that it will not be difficult to begin to connect the dots.

The long, cold hands of the law have already caught up with the thieving staff who are now being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC but experts are still worried that the bank may not have what it takes to safeguard customers’ deposits when criminally minded staff and outsiders strike.

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The industry’s reasoning, as well as other precedents, have further demonstrated that First Bank is porous, and that customers’ deposits are far from safe in their vaults.

According to keen industry observers, the scenario may have damaged the sense of trust that some clients still have in the over a century old bank.

ENigeria Newspaper reports that according to experts, the manner in which the Adesola Adeduntan-led management of First Bank responds to the key questions and concerns raised will determine if it is prepared to avoid any further embarrassment to the institution’s image, which has been severely tarnished by multiple shameful acts of theft perpetrated by some of its unscrupulous employees. WWW.E-NIGERIANG.COM

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