Tellers in most of Liberia’s banks continue to be in the limelight for not doing much to curtail theft of customers’ monies kept through various transactions.
Most often, customers have to stand in very long queues to get their transaction done by tellers who sometimes have to dash their hopes by announcing that the bank’s system is down while the customers will have to leave without carrying out their transactions especially in terms of withdrawals.
Sometimes customers are given number slips to return the next day for reasons not clarified by the banking agents not even with the slightest understanding that the customers have wasted their whole day just to have those transactions settled.
Interestingly, of late, Ecobank-Liberia and the First International Bank-Liberia are topping the chat and rated as the worst banking institutions around town thereby discouraging its many valuable customers of maintaining their accounts in banks where insiders are the direct perpetrators.
The Duala Branch of Ecobank-Liberia is one recent example where Theft of Property was discovered. On September 23, 2013, the bank arrested teller Alvin Fabalee and charged him for Theft of Property for defrauding the bank in the name of ‘system down’. Defendant Fabalee is accused of stealing some US$23, 340. 29 and LD 600, 000.
The head of security investigation of Ecobank Liberia, Varney G. Kromah told the police that in February, suspect Fabalee left his assigned cage because of shortage accumulated by him amounting to the amount in question.
He explained that the suspected teller was later taken back to his cage with the expectation that he would have sorted out his problem or differences if it was the result of system error and he (Kromah) claimed that the bank was also expecting that the teller was searching the system to find out whether his shortages were system problem instead he criminally entered the bank’s internal account, debited some US$9, 743 and LS 631, 049 and credited his till with the said amount.
This attitude on the part of defendant Fabalee prompted the institution to launch an investigation into the work of their employee only to realize that the shortages were not system problem but the defendant has denied the allegation.
Defendant Fabalee told the investigation that while he served as teller at the bank there was system problem that existed which resulted to shortages in his general ledger and that he was given the opportunity to revisit his past work in order to correct the shortages.
He explained that it was during the verification of his works that he realized that he actually had shortages which he tried reducing until US$ 9, 444 was left as balance even though the police detail sheet said he admitted during investigation that he entered the bank’s sundry account where he debited US$9, 743 and LD 631, 049 to his credit his till without the consent of the bank’s management.
The First International Bank Liberia is another classic example of internal bank theft which signals poor banking security. Recently defendant Chile Okafor, a Nigerian National now branded as former employee of the bank was also arrested on similar charges.
According to the Risk Manager and the head of Risk Management and Controls at the FIB, their staff defendant Chike had served the bank as teller for about eight months during which time some customers informed the bank that they made deposits that did not reflect into their accounts.
Investigating the number of deposit slips involved, defendant Chike was asked about the allegations from the customers but he only turned over deposit slips which amounted to US$ 4, 437 and LD 92, 230 and said the amount on the said slips did not form part of the shortage of US$ 8, 789 observed from his C-6 till.
Defendant Chike who worked at the FIB from March to September admitted receiving cash from customers for deposit to their various accounts but took some for his personal use and kept the deposit slips.
He told the investigation how he took some US$ 4, 000 from the customers’ deposits and credited same to a workmate named Christian Ihite so that he too can aid him in balancing his shortage which he claimed to have been accumulated during his assignment as a teller.
Defendant Chike said his alleged compliance; Christian did not pay back the US$ 4, 000 but fled the country for Nigeria and said further that the slips he returned had names of some customers whose monies he did not deposit in their accounts. Customers believe that these could have attributed to the system error or system down at most banks so that the tellers can divert their deposits for their personal use.