Bank frauds are becoming very common in financial institutions the world over. In capital and money markets the talk about Bank and financial frauds perpetuated by customers, employees of these institutions and in most cases jointly organized by employees and customers is not strange. In financial institution such as Banks, customers report cases of pilfering, siphoning and dipping into their accounts. Banks and financial institutions that those illegal practices are carried out either by the employees or jointly conducted by customers and employees put the institutions at greater risk and loss of confidence.
They should not only be seen as sensitive, but highly protected as customers hard earned monthly earnings, fixed deposits and other forms of monetary assets are kept so that when the tide and time become unfavourable for depositors they have somewhere reliable and protected to turn to for redress. What is disappointing is when depositors of savings, fixed and current accounts discover that the banks are no more the safe heavens of their assets. In the past, a lot of individuals, Sierra Leoneans and non Sierra Leoneans prefer to use their homes as Banks, but when fire and armed robbers begin to take control of their homes unexpectedly, the Banks became their only alternative. So when news begins to trickle down the streets that Banks and financial institutions are becoming unsafe, the issue becomes more worrisome than imagined.
In Europe, Asia, America, Africa and the continent of Australia news about frauds being perpetuated either by workers or customers or jointly is gradually taking over the pages of the daily tabloids and radio programmes. Developed countries are mapping out strategies and implementing programmes to combat this nightmare. The use of twenty-four closed circuit televisions(CCTV), constant auditing and monitoring of customer’s accounts by senior officials, surveilancing of staffs while on duty unnoticed and many more are some of the day-to-day methods applied in many financial institutions in an effort to protect monies in the Banks.
The situation in other countries is not different from what obtains in the financial sector in Sierra Leone. As developed countries are putting extra efforts to curb this unfavourable and unwelcome guests in their midst, in the same vein Commercial Banks and other Financial Institutions in Sierra Leone are copying the good aspects of the developed world relating to prevention and safety of monies in the Banks owned by Customers. This has increased the level of certainty, confidentiality and satisfaction among customers and they can now go to bed and sleep with assurance and certainty that their monthly earnings, deposits and more are safe and much protected. The collaboration by the Commercial Banks to rid-off the financial service sector of fraud and forgeries with the active supervision of the Bank of Sierra Leone has been described as commendable.
The practice of frauds and forgeries going unpunished is now a thing of the past, as Banks have resolved to punish offenders severely and prosecute them with the likely consequence of jail terms. Resolutions that have put Commercial Banks in an enviable position equaled to international platform is that anyone who perpetrates a fraud and puts depositors’ funds at risk should be ready to face the music even if after leaving the Banking or financial industry. The situation is no more a hit and run affair as it used to be in the past, but an affair where penalty is the reward for criminality. The Governor of the Central Bank, a former African Development Bank technocrat, one time Financial Secretary of the Country’s economy, Mr. Sambadeen Sesay is not making friends with employees whose focus is to undress Commercial Banks in the public market, but those employees whose creativity and professional skills can upgrade Banks in the country and protect depositors’ money and assets of the Banks.
The Central Bank currently keeps what is known as a “black book” where names of those who have been indicted of any form of fraud in the financial institutions are maintained. Individuals whose names are documented in the black book are no longer expected to move from one bank to another after committing an act of fraud. This means, any worker implicated in a fraudulent practice in a bank cannot secure employment in another bank. The financial institutions have resolved to deal with such individuals decisively. About four weeks or so back, a very senior official, who was the Executive Secretary of the Association of Commercial Banks, named Philip Swarray was axed when he attempted to test the new resolution put in place that is being monitored by the Central Bank under the leadership of Mr. Sambadeen Sesay. The Sierra Leone Commercial Bank with its Managing Director, Mr. Crispin Deigh has not relented in prosecuting employees who meddle with accounts of their customers.
The Guaranty Trust Bank has shown a number of workers the exit door who connived with customers to defraud the institution or discovered to have engaged in criminal enterprise. Report states that a quiet investigation is ongoing to weed out the bad eggs from the institution that has made a name for itself. It may not be too late when the axe will fall on those whose mission is to get rich at the expense of customers’ accounts. At the Union Trust Bank, the name James Sanpha Koroma who has been in the Banking Sector for many years is enough to check the excesses of those who think the fastest and quickest way to get rich is by being an employee of the Bank or financial sector. The Eco Bank has handed over few of its staffs to the Law Enforcement Agency who were being investigated on allegation of frauds pilfering of customers’ accounts, charged to court and found guilty. The Managing Director of Ecobank, Mr. Clement Doodoo will only smile to workers whose ambition is to see Ecobank continues to take a leading position in the Banking Industry, those who are employing the laisser-faire attitude are asked to give space to dedicated workers. On the whole, International Banks cannot now look-down on local Banks in Sierra Leone with an air of superiority as they are getting closer by the minute (To be continued)