May 5, 2021 | Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
Former Female bank employee plead guilty to many counts of fraud and larceny as a servant. The Jamaican Canadian owner of the National Commercial Bank (NCB) has a lot of questions to answer. We will explore that later in Commentary.
Over one hundred million dollars ($100) is estimated as having been pilfered from dormant accounts. These are funds which many account holders have not claimed. Some of these account holders are senior citizens. Money put aside for the education of children. Some may have migrated and left the funds for retirement age or a rainy day. These accounts are treated as “dormant”. In short no withdrawal or deposit has been made in these so called dormant accounts for a period designated by the banks, credit union, or building society etc.. We will look at this practice later.
Many of these accounts have become dormant as citizens are shunning the banks due to exhorbitant fees and excessively high bank charges. They do not trust the financial institutions.
This comes in the backdrop of some $300 million dollars granted to the poor and needy not collected from the COVID Assistance Grant (CARE) because most of these people do not want to deal with banks. Many refuse to open a bank account. So there is no bank account to deposit the grant funds into. This was the preferred route to avoid lack of transparency in the disbursement of these grant funds.
No Bank Account
Many citizens do not trust these financial institutions with their money. The above mentioned fraud of over JA$100 million will not help such lack of public confidence in the banks in Jamaica or likely elsewhere. A survey done and other estimates show that some 30 percent of Jamaicans are unbanked.
This fraud is so sad, shameful, sleezy, scandelous and stupid to say the least. I am disappointed and shocked at this rape.
Can you imagine a trusted employee of over 30 years service to the said bank pleading guilty to stealing from her own employer? She was being paid JA$11 million per year. She was greedy and dishonest indeed. She will be sentenced soon. We hope a long sentence will send a signal that stealing is not to be encouraged.
Michael Lee Chin, the owner of NCB has a lot of questions to answer. Why are systems so slack that it took years to uncover this fraud? It started, we are told from about 2017. Confidential sources tell me long before that date. To be transparent, I bank with NCB.
With the Central Bank (BOJ) now an independent body … will Government have the power to still regulate this rape on the consumer? Time will tell. This matter is pregnant for attention.
This fraud is indeed shameful and scandalous.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior Caribbean/International Correspondent with Vision Newspaper