Klang MP: Who else involved in multi-million-ringgit bank scam?

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Some 40 bank customers had fallen victim to a scam allegedly orchestrated by a banking employee over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a press conference today, Klang MP Charles Santiago revealed that the employee, who occupied a managerial position, has since been suspended from his position at a bank in Klang.

He said that the victims claimed to have collectively lost millions of ringgit as a result of the fraud.

The accused employee’s modus operandi was to withdraw the savings of his clients without their knowledge, forging signatures and keeping their bank books throughout this period.

Charles questioned if it was plausible that the scam was operated by just one banking employee and suggested that more might be involved.

The lawmaker stressed that banks have a fiduciary duty based on trust and banks know that such trust must be realised.

He linked this to the governance mechanism within a bank on the movement of money from one person to another and the flow within the bank itself.

“What is the mechanism? The question here is, how come one individual can scam so many people?

Reuters

Charles Santiago talking with victims of the alleged fraud.

“So, are there more people involved in the scam, or is it just one person? We need answers,” said Charles, questioning if other officers and staff were involved.

He also blasted the central bank’s inaction on the matter.

Charles claimed that Bank Negara Malaysia was aware of the multi-million-ringgit case and the parties involved in the scam.

“It’s always important to ensure that the banks play by rules and the trust mechanism is ensured, but clearly, BNM needs to step up to solve this issue.

“Otherwise, people will have no faith in the banks. This is something that needs to be thought of carefully.

“It involves millions of dollars, and they know which party is involved. I can’t imagine what they’re waiting for,” he added before calling upon the police to step up on the matter as well.

While the case was first flagged in January this year, complaints on the case had only reached the Klang MP’s office on March 24.

Based on a letter written by Charles to the bank branch that same week, the accused employee had convinced customers to sign up for an investment scheme with the promise of large returns.

“My office received multiple complaints from customers from a bank in Klang regarding cases of investment fraud by a bank officer from their branch. Millions of ringgits were lost,” he had said in a tweet.

Days later, the bank revealed that it was conducting an investigation into the matter and was in the process of meeting clients to gather further information.

None of the victims speaking at the press conference today wished to be identified but spoke of the painful loss of their life savings.

Malaysiakini has sighted a copy of one of the police reports made against the bank employee.

Charles’ office estimated that 40 reports had been made on the fraud case.

One retiree, Siti* (not her real name), had described their relationship with the alleged culprit as being akin to a friendship.

“I started banking with his bank when I retired in 2004 or 2005, and so I’ve known this particular manager since that time.

“He became sort of a friend who was very friendly, very helpful in the beginning, in processing my pension,” she said.

Siti said that she had placed all her savings in Amanah Saham Banking (ASB) and had some balance in her checking account with the bank.

In early 2019, she recalled that the manager had advised her to take on an Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) scheme. With the scheme monitored by the banking employee, the retiree invested RM30,000.

“I didn’t check on it, and every time I asked him about this particular saving, he told me not to worry. (He would say), ‘it’s in there’. So, I trusted him, I really trusted him,” said Siti.

It would soon become clear to the retiree that something was amiss when she visited the bank for a bank audit.

According to the victim, she had discovered that the manager had, on a number of occasions, taken a cut from withdrawals made by the retiree without her knowledge.

Moreover, she also found out during the audit he had been making payments to a third party.

When confronted, the accused had made promises to return the funds.

“It was not reflected in my bank statement. So, I have no way of knowing that (these) people were doing it,” she said.

By late last year, she had learnt that her bank account had been wiped out – with only RM12,000 left in her ASB account.

“I’m not very savvy with this banking system, and I had trusted this guy fully. I thought he was a friend. This is really very disturbing, actually,” she said.

A participant at the press conference claimed that all victims dealing with the manager had been premium account holders with the bank.

Charles spoke of one elderly male victim, who was not present at the presser, whose savings of RM300,000 were wiped out entirely.

“He had RM300,000, and he put the money in the bank. The next thing he knew, all RM300,000 was wiped out.

“He says, ‘what am I going to do?’,” said Charles, who added that the 60-year-old victim was forced to take up work following the incident.

Malaysiakini is contacting the bank for a response. – Malaysiakini