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Absa Bank Takes Former Employee to Court for GH¢4.9 Million Fraud

Absa Bank has taken legal action against a former employee, Joshua Akpaloo, by filing a civil suit in the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court. The bank aims to recover GH¢4.9 million that they allege Akpaloo fraudulently obtained between 2011 and 2015, disguising the transactions as payment for telephone bills while he worked for the bank (previously known as Barclays Bank). The case was initially filed in 2018 by Barclays Bank and later amended in 2021 with Absa Bank as the new plaintiff after assuming operations. Apart from seeking the recovery of the funds, the bank also seeks interest on the GH¢4.9 million, starting from July 23, 2015, which is when Akpaloo was terminated by the bank.

In response to the allegations, Akpaloo denies any involvement in the bank’s loss and asserts his innocence, claiming to have been a loyal employee who never committed any fraud. He strongly urges the court to dismiss the suit, asserting that the bank’s case lacks merit. Akpaloo also highlights that he was previously discharged from criminal proceedings related to the same case on two occasions (May 30, 2017, and February 17, 2020) by the Accra Circuit Court due to a lack of prosecution.

According to the lawsuit, Akpaloo started working for Barclays on November 26, 2003, as an Operation Clerk and was later promoted to Clearing Officer in 2008.

Absa Bank alleges in its statement of claim that on July 3, 2015, their Finance Department conducted a review of profit and loss cost lines and discovered unusually high expenses in the telephone cost line and others. Further investigation revealed anomalies in the bank’s Head Office Retail Banking Unit Telephone and Telex Account, specifically two entries of GH¢77,000 and GH¢53,000 with no supporting bills. The investigation, conducted on July 8, 2015, implicated Akpaloo when his name surfaced in connection with the payment team.

According to the bank, when confronted with the issue, Akpaloo promised to provide an explanation the following day but subsequently abandoned his post. The incident has been reported to the Africa Forensic Investigation and Whistleblowing team for further examination.

As per the bank’s claims, the investigation uncovered that Akpaloo utilized duplicated customer telephone bills to create vouchers and debit the Head Office RBU telephone and telex accounts. The funds were then credited to various office accounts, including the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Cash account, E-Box inward BoG transfers, and the integrator-Voucher Processing Centre (VPC). Akpaloo further debited the BoG account to credit the customer Gabbyborg Enterprise account with Barclays Bank Ghana Limited. Funds credited to the Gabbyborg Enterprise account were subsequently transferred to the account of Florence Dorothy Amartey (Akpaloo’s mother) at the Agriculture Development Bank through inward clearing. According to the bank’s statement of claim, she then transferred the funds to Akpaloo’s Fidelity Bank account.

In his defense, Akpaloo argues that his role at the bank involved checking invoices generated from Vodafone phone bills of employees and denies any responsibility for the bank’s loss. He contends that there were adequate checks and balances in place within the bank’s system to prevent or detect such substantial losses. Akpaloo also denies resigning during the investigations, claiming that he was suffering from a medical condition at the time, which necessitated seeking medical attention.

In conclusion, Akpaloo maintains that the bank’s case lacks merit and respectfully requests the court to dismiss all claims against him.

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