Bank teller theft cases rise

HARARE - Zimbabwe's financial services sector has been hard hit by white collar crime, with several bank tellers accused of stealing thousands of dollars.

Several bank tellers have been dragged before the courts for various financial crimes including fraud and embezzlement.

Cases of tellers stealing cash out of their drawers have been on the rise since the introduction of the multiple currency system in 2009.

Economic and social commentators say the prevailing economic challenges, characterised by a biting liquidity crunch, are forcing the respected bankers to turn rogue.

Like millions of other Zimbabweans reeling from mounting hardships of meeting expenses of their families, bankers are  being hauled before the courts on embezzlement charges for stealing millions from their employers.

In June, a former international banking officer with BancABC reportedly manipulated a client’s account and fleeced more than $1 million through fraudulent bank transfers.

Nhamoinesu Francis, 32, of 2032 Mainway Meadows, Waterfalls, appeared before Harare magistrate Donald Ndirowei facing $1 006 088 fraud charges.

Nhamoinesu’s duties included management of bank accounts and facilitating international transfers.

The complainant was Taira Services Limited — a Cyprus-based company that trades in gold.

In May, a former Steward Bank employee Siphilisiwe Mukarati, 37, was hauled before the courts after she allegedly encashed $37 418 from Agro-dealers that was to be deposited to their bank accounts through mobile money transfer.

Earlier, a trainee customer service officer with FBC Bank reportedly connived with a bank teller and swindled the Mines ministry of more than $500 000.

In January this year, an alleged plot by a Stanbic Bank employee in Harare to defraud his employer of over $28 000 backfired after a routine inspection at the bank unearthed the scam, leading to his arrest.

Tinomudashe Samuel Chitonga, 27, of Unit O, Seke in Chitungwiza who was based at the bank’s Nelson Mandela branch, is said to have connived with Ngoni Mutemaringa and hatched a plan to defraud the bank, which was represented in court by its Financial Crime Control manager, Stanley Shaninga.

It is alleged that the defendant would on several occasions make fictitious details on reports concerning Visa cards transactions done by customers, which he would send to the bank’s operations department for processing. On the reports, the accused would allegedly inflate the figures being posted from the Expense Account to the Suspense Account.

In 2013, a former chief teller with the FBC was slapped with a five-year jail term for defrauding Zimpapers of over $30 000 in a well-organised scam dating back to September 2012.

The teller, Alfred Madzokere, fainted in court as magistrate Lazarus Murendo passed sentence. The court found him guilty of theft of trust property as provided for in Section 113 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23. Two years of the sentence were, however, suspended on condition that Madzokere pays restitution.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya said in his mid-term monetary policy that the central bank was concerned with unethical practices and indiscipline in the sector.

Mangudya said malpractices cast doubt on the fitness and probity of the banking officials involved, adding the business of banking is about trust and calls for high levels of honesty and integrity on the part of bankers.

“The Reserve Bank calls upon banking institutions to uphold ethical conduct in their dealings with members of the public in order to maintain confidence in the financial sector,” Mangudya said.

John Robertson, an economic analyst, said announcements and warnings alone were not enough to deter bad practices that could threaten credibility of the banking sector.

“Disciplinary measures should go far beyond just reprimanding so that individuals are protected,” Robertson said.

An official with the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) said although financial institutions employ a tight screening programme for their employees, it would be hard to completely eliminate the criminal element inherent in humans.

Shepherd Ngandu, assistant general secretary of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu), said it is unfortunate that the cases are on the rise.

“The cases are indeed multiplying if you look at it,” Ngandu said.

“At the end of the day, they handle huge amounts of money which they can never dream of having. ”

Comments (3)

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 8 September 2014

Zvekudzura vese vakatirenwa wani naGono. Kana mucharangarira Gono akaparadza mari yese yeZimbabwe. Iye kuramba achipurinda mapepa achiti imari dakara tese kubvira mudhara nekasvava kusara homwe dzaboko. Varume nevakadzi, vakomana nevasikana yes kusara musina kana cent muruwoko asi kuti wakabata kunyo. Ndikafunga mari yangu yakaparadzwa ndinochema chaizvo vanhu kunzwa murume mukuru uchibova. Kana tave ne Govt isina matsotsi nembava dziri kutungamira idzi dzabviswa vese vakadzura vachayenda, yes kujeri mari tinotora yese yakabiwa.

Tashupika Mucharipa - 9 September 2014

Bank workers were last awarded a salary increment of 10% in 2010 . The employers refused to pay this and appealed to the Labour Court. They lost and again appealed to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile almost every bank has been awarding senior management 30% increments every year.

Georgina Mayoyo - 9 September 2014

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