25 February 2013

Liberia: Fibank Corruption Syndicate Deepens

At least 15 persons have been suspended, while seven of those suspended are undergoing police investigation in connection with a US$1.2M fraud at the First International Bank (FIBANK) Liberia Limited, but trusted sources within and amongst the investigators have hinted that some of the bank's executives are linked to the rip-off.

"We have discovered that it is a complete syndicate, very deep and far beyond what has been reported, and indications are clear that several of the bank's executives are involved," one of the investigators told this paper's investigation over the weekend, begging to remain anonymous.

"I am only passing this 'nine-nine' [hint] to you, and just keep watching; you will know what I am talking about," the source noted.

FIBANK over the weekend reported that seven of its operational staffs were undergoing investigation at the Liberia National Police for allegedly defrauding the institution of US$ 1.2 M.

The bank claimed that the seven staffers conspired in defrauding the bank of its asset, noting that in line with regulation and professional standard, it first reported the fraud to the Central Bank of Liberia as it looks forward to speedy investigation and prosecution.

Its Public Relations Officer A. Ambullah Mamey said the "bank's legal team has braced itself with prima facie evidences to explore all legal avenues in recovering the bank's asset from the alleged fraudster," assuring the general public and FIBANK's clients of "unhindered and regular operations" since the fraud has zero effect on customers' savings.

However sources within the bank, plus an 8-page dossier in possession of this paper indicate that terrible transactions including the opening of bogus accounts for the benefits of few higher ups were taking place in the bank, with top executives allegedly in approval.

"This thing is an old age issue there, in that particular FI Bank," claimed a staff. We work here every day; they gave us some instructions which we know is not really correct, but we implement because we want to protect our jobs," an insider said.

"There is a complete 4-1-9 operation and thank God it has been exposed, except that many of those suspended or undergoing police investigation are the wrong people to face the police."

The insider said those accused by the bank are being used as sacrificial lambs, but the real truth is that the managers who pass on instructions are the ones really involved, and they will be exposed."

Another insider told this paper that there is a kind of account called lease hold account opened in all five branches of the bank through which alleged dubious withdrawals by the bank's executives are carried out.

"The just communicate among themselves and withdraw money from there and shares it on weekends and on holidays, and list some kind of bogus transaction, and that's it," the source told The Informer's investigation.

The trusted anonymous source said count is created 00 for the head office, 01 for the Buchanan Branch, 02, Redlight Branch; 03 Sinkor branch; 04 Clara Town Branch and 05 Duala Branch.

Lease Hold Accounts are used for operations of the bank especially in undertaking construction and other major projects, said the source.

"It's being used for 4-1-9 transactions," the source noted. It is being used by the bank's executives to enrich themselves, and each of these accounts has a deficit of about US1million, which is a loss to the bank."

Another insider identified the head of Audit, Head of Risk, the Comptroller, Head of IT, Account Officer as well as the acting Managing Director as some of the big guns that need to be investigated, but the banks PRO Mamey told this paper last evening that he had no comment on the latest development. "We issued a statement yesterday to the Press on what is happening at the bank," he continued. "Anything outside of the statement is not to my knowledge," he hanged up.

Sources noted that another account called the Global Alliance Account is being secretly run by the Acting MD, for which he allegedly "signs approval or authorization for withdrawal by his special customers," who appear nonexistent. About US$2M has been withdrawn from this account at the hurt of the bank.

Investigation revealed that the worst Account at the bank is called the Salary Advance Account. Insiders noted that this account is intended to respond to needs of employees who want salary advance. Under this scheme, those seeking salary advance are to get only 50% of their monthly salaries, "but the top guys use it as their eating spot."

"They dish out salary advance to each others at no cost but when other employees ask for salary advance, the executives demand percentages. In fact, when they award themselves salary advance, they do not deduct it from their monthly salaries. And it has continued like this for years."

The source noted that has caused some officials to hit as high as US$20 to US$50,000 in salary advance without refunding the money, something that is causing huge lost to the bank. "This is the worst account in the bank."

Sourced said many improprieties were occurring at the bank, and said God is ready to expose the big guys. Meanwhile Investigation continues....

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