Behold, there is another fraud at the Republic Bank. This time it involves not a mere eight million but a quarter of a billion dollars. While some persons may be amazed at the unearthing of the fraud, I am not at all surprised by this revelation. Indeed, when the last known fraud was perpetrated on the bank, I surmised that top management might have made a mistake in dismissing six lower level employees when the true perpetrators may have been hiding in plain sight somewhere above them.
The six ex-employees may not be gloating over the discovery of the fraud, but they will certainly feel vindicated, and prove to all those − including the ILO − who failed to help them, that wickedness can indeed reside in high places. Even though there was no tangible and credible evidence that any of them were guilty of any wrongdoing, top management insisted that they were in breach of their covenant to provide faithful and loyal service, hence their dismissal.
Further, the bank maintained that the dismissals were designed to protect its integrity, yet we now have a humongous fraud. I have every reason to believe that the bank’s refusal to look beyond the immediate boundaries of the six dismissed employees, afforded the perpetrators the opportunity to commit this crime.
But the bank ought to have seen this coming. Ever since the disclosure of the NBS fraud in which three senior managers were implicated, all financial institutions ought to have taken steps to minimize injury to their integrity. As a matter of fact, it would not surprise me that there have been many unreported frauds of significance in other financial institutions and big businesses.
Recent studies have shown that frauds in financial institutions are becoming more prevalent.
Ironically, the SN of 26.4.07 reported that the police were investigating the disappearance of a file from the GRA in a matter in which a certain company allegedly owed hundreds of millions in tax. It is most likely that some fraudulent act had to be committed to facilitate the disappearance of the file. We were never informed of the final outcome of that matter, but were recently advised that a huge fraud was perpetrated on the same company.
Frauds do not normally generate the public outrage which violent robberies engender, but they have the potential of inflicting much more harm on society than can be imagined. For example, the ‘Polar Beer Fraud’ was intended to rob the state of hundreds of millions in revenue in a single event. No doubt, such frauds deny the state valuable funds which are necessary for health and education programmes. It is for that reason that I believe that civil society should speak out against frauds with the same enthusiasm that it would speak out against violent crimes being perpetrated by ordinary persons. That is a contradiction which needs urgent attention.