Trashigang police forwarded a case involving a Bank of Bhutan (BoB) banking assistant for alleged forgery to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) last week.

BoB branch office in Trashigang reported to Trashigang police on August 10 that the 24-year-old banking assistant had allegedly forged and misappropriated funds from customers’ accounts amounting to Nu 1,575,000.

According to police, the employee was detained the same night and was kept under custody for about three weeks until he was granted bail recently.

Officials from the bank learnt about the incident after an inspection and audit team found series of transactions conducted by the suspect since 2015.

Kuensel learnt that all transactions were within the range of the suspect’s passing power, which didn’t require an officer’s intervention. It was also learnt that the suspect withdrew the amount after allegedly forging the clients’ signatures.

The clients did not know about the forged transition since they were illiterate and were also not registered for the bank’s SMS service.

It was also learnt that the transaction was executed after generating the day’s user control book without the use of vouchers.

According to the bank’s public relations and media head, Passang Norbu, the fraud occurred due to the lapse of the former manager, who did not follow the procedure in place and control systems of the bank.  “The staff embezzled Nu 1.4 million from 23 accounts of illiterate people by faking their thumb prints.”

He said that a vigilant officer detected the lapse and the funds were recovered. “However, following the bank’s zero tolerance policy on fraud, the staff was immediately terminated and although funds were recovered from him, the case was forwarded to the police for appropriate legal action.”

Passang Norbu also said that the clients’ money was refunded and there was no loss incurred to the bank.

He said that the BoBL has since then reinforced its controls to stop such frauds from occurring.  “The bank is also exploring the possibility of introducing biometric verification for accounts belonging to illiterate people to strengthen the security.”

Passang Norbu said that no action could be taken against the former manager since he had resigned before the fraud was detected.

Meanwhile, police said that the principle amount involved in forgery was recovered excluding the interest.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang