Money & Banking

Of marital conflicts and forged signatures

K. Ram Kumar Mumbai | Updated on February 09, 2011

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Marriages are made in heaven but break-ups happen on earth and the ripple effects can be felt in bank accounts!

This hard reality has been brought into sharp focus in the latest Annual Report of the Banking Ombudsman (BO) Scheme. The Ombudsmen, among others, have dealt with cases relating to forging of wife's signature by an estranged husband and fraudulent conversion of ex-wife's account to a joint account and transfer of funds through net banking.

That spouses, especially women, need to secure their banking relationship before marital harmony degenerates into disharmony is underscored by the case of an estranged husband who cleaned out his wife's account, which had a modest balance of about Rs 8,000, by forging her signature through eight withdrawals in a span of 20 days.

Sensing problems, the branch officials ignored the woman's request to investigate the matter, closed her account by getting her forced signature on a paper. Even though she requested them to take action, no first information report was filed by the branch. The BO also closed the case.

The harried lady then moved the Appellate Authority (RBI Deputy Governor). The AA observed that her signatures on the cheques glaringly differed from her specimen signature and that forgery was quite visible.

Holding the bank guilty of deficiency in service, the AA directed it to reopen her Savings Bank account, re-credit the amount of Rs 8,000 irregularly paid and pay her a token compensation of Rs 5,000.

Fraudulent conversion to joint account, transfer of funds: A BO dealt with a case involving unauthorised transfer from the account of the complainant through net banking even though she had never applied for net banking facility.

She alleged that with the connivance of her ex-husband, who was also the bank's Deputy Manager, the bank staff transferred funds from her savings bank accounts through net banking and other instruments with forged signatures.

The bank had also converted her savings bank account (with single operation) as joint with her ex-husband without her consent and allowed various debits in the account without her knowledge.

As crucial records of the bank were missing, mala fide intention on the part of the complainant's ex-husband or some other officials appeared to have been established resulting in deficiency in services of the bank.

The bank was, therefore, directed to pay to the complainant the amount so appropriated immediately with up-to-date interest from the date of debit to the date of payment, restore the account as a single operated account, cancel the Internet banking facility and allow operations to the complainant on her accounts.

Published on February 07, 2011

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