President directs banks to refund over Rs 0.5 mln to bank fraud victims


ISLAMABAD, May 16 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday directed two private banks to refund an amount of Rs 564,469 to three victims of bank fraud in cases of online funds transfers and fraudulent ATM transactions.

The President gave these directions while deciding on three separate representations filed by Allied Bank Ltd (ABL), United Bank Ltd (UBL), and a citizen against three different verdicts of the Banking Mohtasib (BM).

The complainants named Muhammad Saleem Zafar, Hidayatullah, and Ghulam Muhammad maintained separate accounts with ABL in Lahore, UBL in District Karak, and ABL in Peshawar respectively. Zafar, on receiving a call from a number similar to ABL’s helpline, shared his banking information with the caller who introduced himself as the bank’s representative.

Similarly, Hidayatullah lost Rs 170,969 to some unknown person using UBL Digital App even though he had neither requested for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Facility nor had he ever used it.

Ghulam Muhammad lost Rs 45,000 when his card was captured by an ATM machine and he later found out that some fraudsters got hold of his card through deception, conducted ATM transactions, and withdrew funds from his account unauthorizedly.

The complainants approached the banks for relief but in vain. Feeling aggrieved, they separately approached the Banking Mohtasib (BM) which in the cases of Zafar and Hidayatullah directed them to refund the lost amounts to them whereas in the case of Ghulam Muhammad, BM directed them to close the complaint. The cases were later referred to the president through separate representations, who directed the banks to pay the defrauded amount to all three victims of bank fraud.

The president in his decisions observed that in the cases of Zafar and Hidayatullah, the respective banks had opened EFT Facility by default without the consent and knowledge of the customers, which was in violation of the State Bank of Pakistan’s rules/regulations and the Payment System and Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) Act, 2007.

He noted that the complainants had not requested the opening of such channels and the banks could not produce any evidence with regard to the full disclosure of terms of fund transfer in a clear manner as stipulated in the EFT Act 2007. He upheld the decisions of the Banking Mohtasib that since malpractice and maladministration on the part of banks had been established, therefore, the banks were liable to make good the loss of Rs 348,500 and Rs 170,969 to the customers.

In the case of Ghulam Muhammad, the president observed that it was proved unambiguously that the card was captured and later on some swindlers got hold of his card through their sleight of hands/deception from the ATM. He said that it was the primary responsibility of the bank to protect the interests of the depositors optimally and recently representations of similar nature filed by banks were rejected, therefore, justice demanded consistency in cases of similar nature. The president, therefore, rejected the decision of Banking Mohtasib to close the case and directed ABL to pay Rs 45,000 to the victim of fraud.

By Shumaila Andleeb

Shumaila Andleeb; Senior Reporter at Associated Press of Pakistan; covering the beats of President, Prime Minister, Foreign Office, and Special Assignments.

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