President orders private banks to refund relief to complainants account

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(Khalid Sibtain)

Islamabad: President Dr Arif Alvi has provided relief to 6 different victims of bank fraud by upholding the decisions of the Banking Mohtasib ordering private banks to refund a collective sum of over Rs 827,000 to the accountholders. The President rejected 05 different representations of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and 01 representation of Meezan Bank Limited against the decisions of Banking Mohtasib directing them to make good the loss of the victims of bank fraud by crediting the lost money to their individual bank accounts.

As per the details of the cases, Mr Muhammad Pervaiz Khan, Mr Kashif Latif, Mr Naimat Ali, Mr Intezar Ahmed, Ms Asia Manzoor, and Mr Mohsin Shabbir (the complainants) had been maintaining their individual bank accounts with HBL. They received calls from unknown numbers and the callers posed as bank officials and asked them to share their personal credentials which they did. The callers managed to defraud Mr Pervaiz Khan of Rs 333,300, Mr Latif of Rs 140,000, Mr Naimat of 137,489, Mr Intezar of Rs 119,848, Ms Asia of Rs 78,780 and Mr Shabbir of Rs 20,108 by fraudulently transferring funds from their bank accounts. Afterwards, they received alerts about hefty amounts being withdrawn from their bank accounts. The complainants approached the bank to get their defrauded amounts refunded, however, they were not given any relief. Later, the complainants approached the Banking Mohtasib individually to seek redressal of their complaints.

The Banking Mohtasib in its decision wrote that the bank had activated fund transfer service i.e., IB/EFT channel by default without informing the complainants and had not divulged the pros and cons of the “fund transfer” facility in terms of Section 30 of Payment System and Electronic Fund Transfer Act-2007. It noted that since the facility was unsolicited, therefore, any financial loss in this regard cannot be categorized as “customer liability”. It further observed that had IB/EFT channel not been made operational by the bank, the complainants could have avoided the financial loss. The Banking Mohtasib held that the bank could not produce any evidence to the effect that it had complied with the provisions of law, rules and regulations and ordered the bank to refund the defrauded money to the complainants. Subsequently, the banks filed representations with the Honorable President against the decisions of the Mohtasib.

The President in his decision observed that the banks were given ample opportunity to defend and controvert the claims of the complainants, however, they failed to provide any justification to upset the orders of the Mohtasib. “The Banks failed to discharge their duty and the legal responsibility cast upon them under the law”, the President noted while rejecting the appeals as being devoid of any merit.