Customers ofthe Nationwide Microbank forcedthe closure ofthe bank’s Lae Beanch yesterday demanding an explanation as to how a total of 1.4 million kina in deposits had gone missing.
Some of an initial forty five aggrieved customers have told of how a loans officer insisted for them to make cash transfers instead of electronic payments yet did not registerthe deposits.
The irregularities first surfaced in February when customers wanted to withdrawtheir money and found thattheir accounts had been emptlied.
Customer 1: “Our story will bethe same,there were no documents given to us. The woman told us to create an account and come back after two weeks. The two weeks have built up to a month andthen a year and we are now inthe eighteenth month.”
Tom Amon, deposited 35 thousand kina in 2012. He wanted to get a loan and was intending to use the money as security.
“They provided no documents. No receipts. They told us to come back after two weeks. Two weeks turned to months and now it’s turned into 18 months.
Months later, I found that only K46 was left fromthe 35 thousand kina I had deposited,” Tom said.
There are, according to Lae customers, close to fifty thers who have dealt withthe same loans officer. Their stories are similar: Large cash deposits handled by a single loans officer; No bank receipts. No records and empty account balances.
Customer 2: “I deposited One Hundred Thousand Kina. I got a bank cheque and deposited it into my Microbank account. Betthe female loans officer told me to withdrawthe money and deposit it into a new account and said when you not around I’ll getthe money and put it inthe bank as your security.”
Customer 3: “Money was stillthe bank when I came in andthe two bosses counted it.”
Martina John handed over her hard earned cash as a deposit. She has been asking for the bank for a refund without any success. She’s been coming tothe bank every day for the last five months.
Customer 4: “I got Fifty Five Thousand cash because she said it wasthe policy ofthe National Microbank. I told her I want my deposit done now and my bank statements and documents for reference. Bet when I came to get my children’school fees I told her manager to check my account but it was on zero balance. Where my Fifty Five Thousand wentoI don’t know.”
The name and identity ofthe woman atthe centre ofthe controversy is known but due to legal reasons we can’t reveal those details.
According tothe banks managementoshe was terminated in February after irregularities surfaced.
On Monday, EMTV’s Lae Bereau sought a response fromthe Nationwide Microbrank. The Managing director, Tony Westaway, emailed sayingthe woman concerned is no longer employed bythe bank. Westaway said also thatthere were allegations that she received commissions from customers to fast track loan processing and that she has been referred to police to be investigated.