24 January, 2020

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Exposé: Hatton National Bank Robs Customers And Auctions Their Properties 

A fiduciary relationship is held to a pinnacle between any parties to it, Colombo Telegraph is now in possession of reliable information where a leading bank has failed to uphold this basic good faith and trust to one of its customers failing in its duty to uphold that fiduciary relationship.

Hatton National Bank (HNB), manageress of the Kundasale branch together with her deputy and others have swindled money from one of its customers, Colombo Telegraph reliably learns. The mass fraudulent act amounting to approximately 30 million rupees have been swept under the carpet to ensure the reputation of the bank is not affected.

The more alarming factor that has surfaced is the bank’s failure to make the victim aware of the findings of the bank and proper action is taken. Several requests sent to the bank has fallen on deaf ears as it has not taken steps to be transparent with their victimized customer.

Speaking to Colombo Telegraph the victim, Vinothini Vijeyakumar, related her story explained how she was guided by the said manageress professionally to open an account with them which eventually increased to five accounts. The manageress has then offered to perform services going beyond her role and obtained signed cheques from the victim on the pretext of assisting her with the accounts during her confinement.

“As a reputed bank I fully trusted the bank and never even dreamt the bank will not only defraud me but simply wash off its responsibility by calling me upon several meetings and falsely convincing me that they would amicably come to a conclusion regarding this case for a year. Some of the officials treated me in a mocking manner even regretting about the fact that I’m a mother of three children and a victim of a massive fraudulent,” said Vinothini Vijeyakumar.

“I am currently going under deep mental agony as I’ve lost in the field of my business and in my crib level and I’m also in a catastrophic state of losing all my good will due to the degrading activities of such a reputed bank. I further state that my recycling project has also faced a downfall due to such false activities of the bank and it will completely breakdown once after the auction,” the victim Vijeyakumar further said.

The bank with a malicious intent deliberately averted the auditors by impeding their audit activities.

The bank has fabricated a letter for a fund transfer of Rs.2 850 000 and the date mentioned in the letter is 07.06.2015 but the account was opened in March 2016. ( click here to read fabricated letter)

Priyani Rathnayake – Then Manageress Kundasale branch HNB

Praboda Wickramasinghe – Then Asst. Manager Kundasale Branch HNB

When suspicious arose, immediate steps were taken to freeze the bank accounts and conduct a forensic audit. In their executive summary KPMG, auditors state that “Identified loss was approximately Rs. 22 million. This figure includes the gap between withdrawals and deposits Rs. 18.2 million and a cash withdrawal of Rs. 3.9 million”.

The executive audit report further indicates that it was revealed that there was an Rs. 3.9 million cash withdrawal without a corresponding cheque reference in March 2016.

“Even though, there had been a typed letter with the account holder’s signature as a supporting document for the Rs. 3.9 Mn cash withdrawal, the account holder has not granted approval for this withdrawal. Therefore, Rs. 3.9 Mn cash withdrawal has added in arriving the possible total loss,” the report states.

In addition other fraudulent activities identified through the audit includes unauthorized fund transfers, Unauthorized Overdraft Facility, Unrealized deposits, where the deposit slip with HNB official stamp was not deposited on the respective account, cheque deposits recorded as cash deposit – System status report has printed on the cheque deposit slip as a “Cash Deposit” and Withdrawal of Rs.50,000 even after freezing the accounts on the 30th of June 2017.

Hatton National Bank failing to provide any sort of assistance to the victim has now sought to auction her property which she had mortgaged to the bank at the very outset.

Other than conducting an internal inquiry the bank has failed to take any action against the ex-employees or to assist the victim in recovering the loss. However, the bank is now pursuing to auction mortgage property in order to recover. But by terminating both the manageress and the assistant the bank has not only accepted the full responsibility of the fraud, but taken the onus of providing  relief to the customer as a matter of assuring “credibility” and trustworthiness and reputation of the bank. (Click here to read the letter of termination)

The complaints to the financial ombudsmen or the Central Bank over the matter have not done much to bring about any justice.

According to the victim, the Ombudsmen although have made several recommendations nothing had resulted from it.

The victim currently faces financial losses and the risk of losing assets over the bank’s attempt to auction it and no redress is made to recover the moneys.

On 11th March Colombo Telegraph has sent following questions to the administration of the HNB and even wrote to the Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody seeking clarification:

1. When did the Complainant Vinothini make the Complaint to the bank?

2. Vinothini  being one of the main customer and one who was holding almost  50% of the turnover at Kundasale Branch of the HNB, dealt in Millions in your Kundasale branch complains of a massive fraud –what are the actions the Bank has taken on justice to this valued Customer ?

3. This complaint warrants an internal audit and a high level investigation, what is the status of such audit and investigation ?

4. Did you support and allow Vinothini to get a proper audit done on her bank account-which she was entitled to?

5. You have informed the Central bank that the relevant – Kundasale Manager and the Assistant Manager had been terminated from service – is it not an indication that the bank had taken responsibility and culpability in this regard?

6. Vinothini’s Eco friendly business had been an asset to the National Economy. The fraud, breach of trust has caused irreparable loss to her business, loss of employment to hundreds of people, loss to the National economy, unbearable mental agony to Vinothini. Did you deal with this matter firstly according to business ethics? Secondly on the grounds ethical customer care  and thirdly on humanitarian grounds?

The bank has so far failed to answer to the questions above.

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Latest comments

  • 23
    0

    We are awaiting news from CT and Vinothi about some positive response from HNB , including the cancellation of the auction , for us to decide whether to keep our accounts and transaction with the HNB and also to inform our migrant friends who remit large sums of remittances through HNB to change the bank.
    Readers commends on HNB’s response to the article is more than enough for HNB to judge where they and their reputation stand. Any crisis in business can be overcome with appropriate wise customer friendly correct decision keeping Pride aside. HNB come on and act wisely and re-affirm to us your integrity and trustworthiness
    M.Jayamaha

    • 17
      0

      This is not the first time. We had an issue with a branch of HNB where my elderly parents’ funds were being withdrawn at regular intervals in small amounts. Their age could be found from the NIC number recorded in the respective account. When we inquired, the officers said probably the card was given to a servant or a driver and this would have been a fraudulent withdrawal done by such a domestic. When I informed that they had neither and they rarely withdrew funds since all their financial expenses were taken care of, the officers had no reply to tender. Reported to the Financial Ombudsman, but nothing came out of it. Probably the FO wants to safeguard the bank’s reputation.
      It is my firm belief that all elderly account holders above 75 or so (who tend to have failing memories) should get their accounts status checked periodically, whether the funds are kept at HNB or elsewhere.

    • 9
      0

      Don’t let foreign remittances unless someone in this country is there to follow up monitor and take constant care of the accounts to which funds are credited And kept in because there are guys select non operative or long-time unattended accounts and fraudulently withdraw money. When the people come to the country after
      a longtime money would be gone.-fernan

    • 6
      0

      Please be aware that HNB imposes high hidden charges on Foreign Currency accounts maintained by its customers which are not given in the Bank’s published tariff (available on website only), although they are required as per The Customer Charter to notify customers either in writing or by ‘Displaying at All their Branches’ They don’t do either and when a customer complaints about such charges they amend their Tariff in the website without any notification to customers.

  • 24
    0

    An assistant manager of this bank has robbed deposits worth of around 32 million on maturity belong to a high ranked medical professional .He has single handedly carried out all the operations related to the deposits has forged signatures in all documents and has opened current accounts in many people’s name without their knowledge.and withdrawn the deposited funds through his wife’s account But the bank does not take the responsibility saying the fraudster had left the bank .. How come the bank allow any of its officer to handle matters against the procedures and simply say it is not banks fault.but HNB DOES. The fraudster named Asanka pussella has left the country with the family once the fraud came to light. Don’t trust this bank and anyone in its service. The said named fraudster had been well supported by the other officers and subordinates around him in several branches.. Don’t trust them Dont bank with HNB if you need your money back. ..Russel

  • 21
    0

    I will cancel all my hnb accounts by tomorrow for sure i dont want to do any dealing with hnb and dishonest to the customers is not acceptable and i will not recomend any of my friends,colegues and others,such fraud bank robering customers money and property shoukd punish its a must i pray for who encounted and i request for higher aouthorty to take immediat action aganist the hnb bank and give justice for who lost they money and property asap.

  • 20
    0

    Hnb is very old bank , now all repuatation gone..
    hnb and all are playing peoples money

  • 20
    1

    HNB was undoubtedly was a reputed bank during the 1970s. As the political interference, ground situation changed and after several pogroms with impunity, political corruption skyrocketed as Sinhala leaders not interested in the country but used racial and religious hatred to rob the nation, sold a port to China and remain in power;

    If another powerful nation threats to take these leaders to ICC and ICJ, they will sign and sell another portion of Sri Lanka to them; Most likely, India, US, Russia, EU can have a portion of Sri Lanka sooner than later; Political greediness and this was they can be off the hook from war crimes investigation but the foolish Sinhala people are taken for a ride!

    A country that was in high standards at the time of independence, ruined and dependent on foreign aid for survival today; Have assets, investing from overseas or visiting to Sri Lanka must be avoided if anyone wants to be in peace: If one can get out from Sri Lanka as early as possible, they have made the best possible decision in their life;:

  • 21
    2

    Why??? Sri Lankan main media didn’t expose such an incidents …

    In SL there no investigate journalists??

    It’s seems there are many HNB a/c holders has faced these types of issues

    HNB top to bottom frauds

    • 15
      0

      If HNB trustworthy , well reputed and really concern with customer point of view…. they could have post something positive or with responsibility manner. But still there is nothing means…
      they never care about people thoughts , customer care, social media…!!
      Only that concern about their money should recover and they should stand in safe zone.
      Later they will ask Mrs. Vinothini handle with courts. And they will loop this case until she die.

    • 14
      1

      Because they’ don’t want to loose advertisement money!

    • 5
      1

      To avoid Whitevan experience!

  • 17
    0

    What is the current status of this issue???

    How can we know ??

    Still bank wants to auction the properties???

  • 16
    0

    Motherland is not adequately set up structurally with checks and balances on money, either by the banks, commercial law, or in the constitutional articles and amendments. Potential for abuse of system is sky-high. Corruption is rampant.

  • 13
    0

    Let me expose another racket by the HNB higher ups. . They love to auction the property of the so called defaulting clients. Why do I say this. . Let’s say they want to auction a property to recover an amount of 30 million where as the market value of the property may be something like 100 million . They will only want to show the public they auctioned the property to recover the defaulted amount. Behind the scene they connive with the (relevant people- the reader understands ) and with the so called “prospective buyer” and keep the bidding price to around the defaulted amount . After the auction the successful bidder would dispose the property to 100 million (that would be market value ) or so and the profit margin would be shared among the bidder and bank higher ups. Many gullible customers do not possess the real valuation of the property to compel the auctioneer to start the bid beginning from the real value or to ensure that the property is auctioned for the real market Price and the bank recovers its due and return the balance to the client. Many do not understand the mode of operandi of this so called “reputed bank”
    In spite of all these exposures if the HNB still proceed with the auction Vionthi should be prepared with the real valuation of the property so that the auctioneer cannot start the bid starting from the defaulted amount . There could be a legal remedy in this specific issue . Vinothini should try.
    Vinothini’s case can be an eye opener for clients who face property Auction in the future , and to stop day light Robbery by the HNB higher ups. This is like vultures pouncing on the beggars bowl

  • 13
    0

    HNB was very old bank but now they have all robbers stealing our money and this have to punish to stop and the punishment should strong to teach a lesson to other banks as well i hope the President hon. Godabaya Rajapaksha will take action to stop this thinks happen in our country.
    Bala.

  • 11
    1

    The Bank has supposed to have started its business from Hatton. At that time targeting tea estate owners, staff and businessmen and later the ignorant plantation workers Today in the plantation areas majority of their customers are these plantation workers, significant number of them are Labor Migrants remitting their money through the HNB while the EPF, ETF and gratuity monies are deposited with the HNB. If HNB can hoodwink educated businessmen and even professional what would they have not done with these plantation workers? We need to find a way to make this exposure in tamil and Sinhala too, so that the ones who are affected (sure there should be many ) have an avenue to bring their cases to light . Can some one suggest a way out ??
    P. Sundaralingam

  • 2
    17

    Response by HATTON NATIONAL BANK PLC;
    HNB regrets the misleading and false allegations in the comments section, made by someone calling himself Russel, which appeared in the Colombo Telegraph of 14th December. The Bank categorically denies the allegations made thereof. Furthermore, HNB wishes to inform that since this matter is currently under investigation on a Court order. The Bank has extended its fullest support to ensure that justice is done and fraudsters are brought to book. The Bank has and will always maintain the highest levels of governance and ethics in all its dealings.

    • 12
      2

      If they maintained highest level of governance and ethics how on earth all these happen inside ??!! Now only they are worried and comment even on comments..after all they say they are supportive .but apparently Horse. Has Already Gone – madhavan

  • 13
    1

    I have a foreign currency account with HNB only because they pay a high interest. I recently visited the bank and I must say that their service and attitude to their customers are unbecoming of a professional bank.

    I hope this poor lady will soon be granted relief. I am now worried about my account with HNB

    • 11
      1

      They quote high Interest rate to attract us and that is the reason people are getting entangled in their net .when some adverse things happen and customers are in trouble, not only interest even the capital amount won’t be safe and received back to you.

  • 11
    1

    Worst ever private bank in Sri Lanka. HNB staff is very rude. The staff even doesn’t know the meaning of politeness. They even don’t know how to talk to their own customers at all.

  • 12
    2

    Yes .true. but they say when advertise “caring ,curteous and blah blah…and their motto is ” PARTNER IN PROGRESS” ( IT SHOULD BE AMMENDED NOW AS :-
    PARTNERS IN OUR OWN PROGRESS)

  • 8
    0

    Recently I had issue with same bank, I have purchased a land , 19 years back and I find there was a mortgage bond on that land, previous owner had taken a loan from the bank and paid in full. Bank has returned the deed too. But failed to cancel the mortgage bond. Sad part is when inquirie made no body knows no books or records with them to refer and instructed me to pay 5000 for a something called cancel bond. It took more than a month. My concern is , if we need a facility from a bank, they are very keen in finding every thing clean from us. After the dues are settled in full with so much interest, various charges, why can’t bank to clear the mortgage bonds , what ever and hand over clean documents to their customer. HNB is famous for this type of things because they call it centralized system. Deeds are in head office and it has to clear form the so called head office.if so they should not hand over the deed s until every thing clear.some Customers are unaware about the matter they think after receiving the deeds it is all over. I banks part is to follow it up an handover the relevant documents after receiving from the so call head office. Because delay due to their system. Even the Gov banks they keep all the document at their respective branches I understand.

  • 7
    1

    Namal what you said is true they are rude even to ex-employees who rendered a valuable service to the bank.

    • 4
      0

      Yes when one person Who is now a DGM had instructed his subordinates that not to entertain the ex employees when he was the head of a big outstation branch

      • 4
        0

        Yes I know that arrogant guy he’s from hill side.He doesn’t like ex employees.

  • 11
    0

    HI. HNB
    Shame on you . Your responses have become a real joke .
    Why did you take 3 days to deny? Oh ,May be you were searching for his name among the many who are in fraudsters employee list !!
    Your are now saying “ Bank has extended its fullest support to ensure that justice is done and fraudsters are brought to book” , you have still not said what action you have taken against your employee fraudsters who have played out millions of your clients , what were you doing for more than 2 years. And fullest support to whom ?? You can take your own time for that –

    What about the client who had incurred irreparable loss you and your employees for that the Bank has caused. First settle her without passing the ball by l saying the matter is under litigation . First show your integrity and genuineness by granting due relief to the affected client, before fooling us saying “the Bank has and will always maintain the highest levels of governance and ethics in all its dealings. No more jokes please !!
    P_.Sundaralingam

  • 4
    0

    This must me reported to Security of Exchange. The trading of their shares will be suspended

  • 4
    0

    Yes I know that arrogant guy he’s from hill side.He doesn’t like ex employees.

  • 4
    0

    Yes when one person Who is now a DGM had instructed his subordinates that not to entertain the ex employees when he was the head of a big outstation branch

  • 5
    0

    The current employees of this bank should learn from its former employees specially who were in the cooperate management as to how they struggled and raised the bank to its current position that is going to be ruined by a bunch of Idiots. I am so regretful as I knew how good the bank was about 10 – 15 years back.

  • 4
    0

    FO? Just a waste .it is not better than a mediation board

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