Republic Bank fires three senior staffers …but says they were ‘not involved’ in $250M fraud

Republic Bank (Guyana) has fired three senior staff members in relation to a $250M fraud but according to the Trinidad-based parent company the dismissed persons were not involved in the scam.

General Manager Group Marketing and Communica-tion in Trinidad, Anna-Maria Garcia-Brooks told the Trinidad Express on Monday that the three staff members were dismissed because they had not followed internal bank procedures that could have prevented the fraud.

Officials at the bank’s local office have been silent on the issue and would only say that there was a fraud but refused to entertain any questions when they were contacted by Stabroek News.

Garcia-Brooks told the Express that it was not what they could call “internal fraud”, since “the employees were not involved in it. They did not follow the bank’s procedures.

The procedures are in place and had they followed the procedures the fraud just would not have been perpetuated.”

“The important thing is that they find the real fraudsters,” Garcia-Brooks told the Trinidad newspaper.

According to the Express report Garcia-Brooks said the bank’s board of directors in Port of Spain agreed to the dismissal of the three staff members on the recommendation of Republic Bank (Guyana’s) management.

She said the incident that occurred in Guyana was an isolated one and has nothing to do with its operations in Trinidad and Tobago, as she noted the bank’s procedures are “good” and “well tested”.

Stabroek News was told late last month that a Trinidadian may be involved in the multi-million-dollar fraud that was committed at the bank’s Camp and Robb streets location.

The fraud was discovered sometime last November but this newspaper understands that it occurred over a period and started at the bank’s former Camp and Regent streets location and continued at the new Robb and Camp facility.

This newspaper was told that one of the senior employees who was sent home had made an “arrangement” with the bank. That employee reportedly headed the Camp and Robb streets location.

None of the employees who were sent home was prepared to speak and other employees have stated that little or no information was being given to them about the fraud. Some only learnt of it when it was reported in the local newspapers.
While it is not exactly clear how the fraud was perpetrated, Stabroek News was told that so-called “customers” went into the bank and using fraudulent signatures made money transfers to various banks in Canada.

Crime Chief Seelall Persaud had told Stabroek News that the police were investigating and that they were in contact with their counterparts, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

One of the loopholes at the bank that may have been taken advantage of was the fact that there was no way of verifying addresses and identities in other countries. Sources had told Stabroek News that verification of information is done on the telephone on numbers provided by the persons conducting the transaction. It was pointed out that the person could provide the number of someone who is working in collusion with him/her.

It was reported that when the bank found out about the fraud it halted some transfers that were in progress, but sources said that maybe the bank should have allowed the transfers to go through in an effort to ascertain who was receiving the money.

Stabroek News was told that the bank learnt of the fraud when one of its customers went directly to senior officials at the New Market Street head office and made certain claims.

Those officials have since been keeping the information close to their chests.

“Hardly any employee knows what happened, even those in senior positions at other branches, no one is saying anything and people are very tense,” one source had said.

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