Five banking scandals in the world that shook customer faith

March 01, 2018 | 15:05
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Over the past several years, aside from the overall rosy performance the finance and banking sector posted, banking scandals also made several headlines. VIR listed the five scandalous events in the world banking sector over recent years.

Punjab National Bank in India

In early February, India's potential depositors were shocked as a gigantic $2.3-billion banking scandal at India’s second largest government-owned lender, Punjab National Bank (PNB), was revealed after seven years of concealment, setting off the biggest loan-related scandal in the history of the country’s banking activities, according to newswire The Straits Times.

The India-based bank gave the official announcement that the banking fraud was conducted by its own staff and two outsiders, jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, siphoning millions of dollars silently over the past seven years, according to newswire Quarts India.

Since February 14, when the bank made the first official contact with its shareholders, the financial case was taken over by the enforcement directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation, while the two culprits were on the lam.

five banking scandals in the world that shook customer faith
Young Indian activists rallied to protest against the billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi in New Delhi on February 6 (Source: Reuters)

Commonwealth Bank in Australia

As disclosed in the latest report published by Productivity Commission, the Australian government's principal review and advisory body, the Australian financial system allowed bankers and insurers to amplify their profits by exploiting loyal clients whilst all the power of the banking and finance sector lied in the hands of only four giants, National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and Westpac (WBC), raising severe concerns among Aussies regarding the suspiciously huge market power and the transparency of the financial system.

On February 7, Australia’s biggest multinational bank reported that its six-month cash profit plunged by 1.9 per cent to $4.73 billion in the aftermath of a money-laundering scandal, forcing the bank to set aside $375 million as provisions against potential fines for money laundering allegations and funding of terrorism, according to newswire The Guardian.

Specifically, the Australia-based bank was prosecuted by Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) for 53,700 violations of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

Additionally, the CEO of the Commonwealth, Ian Narev, was accused of having “neglected” notifying regulators of large cash transactions a total of 53,506 times, indicating huge amounts of “dirty” cash streaming directly into the bank’s system of ATMs without revealing the identity of depositors who then moved the laundered cash into offshore accounts.

Tesco Bank in United Kingdom

In late 2016, a record number of 20,000 banking accounts initially registered at Tesco Bank, a UK-based retail bank, reported inexplicable balance deductions over one weekend as a result of a hacker breaking into the bank’s portal.

About 40,000 customers of the UK-based bank reported that their online banking accounts were compromised, and about half of the accounts were digitally stolen, according to newswire Telegraph.

Ocean Bank in Vietnam

In the second half of 2017, Nguyen Xuan Son, former general director of Ocean Bank and former chairman of PetroVietnam, was given the death sentence for embezzlement, abuse of power, and economic mismanagement.

Additionally, Ocean Bank’s ex-chairman Ha Van Tham, who was previously convicted of unlawfully approving a $23-million loan in 2012, was imprisoned for life for the same charges and violating lending principles.

five banking scandals in the world that shook customer faith
Eximbank's stock price nearly hit rock-bottom after the fraud came to light

Eximbank in Vietnam

In late February 2017, a total of VND245 billion ($10.8 million) suddenly “evaporated” from a bank account of a VIP customer of Eximbank named Chu Thi Binh. Prior to the bitter discovery, Binh reached out to the bank to withdraw her deposits upon the maturity date of her VND49 billion savings account, only to find out her savings had vanished form the system.

To date, probes concluded that Le Nguyen Hung, former deputy director of an Eximbank branch in Ho Chi Minh City, forged documents to pull out Binh’s personal savings and fled the country. The bank proposed of paying Binh an advanced compensation of VND14.8 billion ($0.65 million), assuring her that the remainder would be paid back after the court trial.

By Sam Luong

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