I was managing director of a successfull company in the early 1980's
One day my main supplier phoned me to say that my company cheque had bounced. I could not believe it, by my calculations I had £35,000 in the company bank account. I phoned the bank and they told me that they had bounced the cheque because I was over my limit.
I spent 2 days and nights going over the figures, I asked the bank for the last 3 months cheques and an up todate statement.
I discovered that my signature had been forged on over £28,000 worth of cheques in the 3 month period. The forgeries were not very good.
I called into the bank and spoke to the manager and asked him what was he going to do. He told me I would have to take it up with the banks legal department and he refused to give me any more of the back cheques that had been cashed.
A friend of mine who worked in the Branch told me that there were 5 other similar cases in the branch.
I took on a firm of solicitors and instructed them. 4 weeks later they withdrew as they had been threatened by the bank. The same happened with the next firm of solicitors. I eventually located a firm of solicitors who would handle the case.
The solicitor told me I would need a handwriting expert. Every handwriting expert I contacted in Ireland refused to work with us. They said it was not worth it as they would never get any more work from the banks, their main source of income.
I went to England and took on the Birmingham Six handwriting expert John Radley, he has an International reputation. I gave him 40 previous samples of my signature, license, passport etc. He confirmed that the signatures on the cheques had been forged. I paid both the solicitor and John Radley major fees.
In the middle of what was going on the manager of the branch in question was sacked.
I started a legal action against the bank for monies owed plus damages. My business had closed down and I was now in serious debt.
I opened a new bank account in another of the main banks, it was closed down within 4 weeks, the legal departments of the main banks work together.
After a long period of time the bank agreed to settle the case and mentioned various sums, never in writing always on the phone. I agreed to settle the case.
I met the main legal person from the bank in my accountants office. He told me that by agreeing to the settlement that my sister who was an employee of the bank and my first cousin who also worked there would never be promoted. In other words the threat was if we pay they will never be promoted.
My father was a director of a major semi state body. I explained the situation to him, he thought about it for a few days and came back to me and asked me to drop the case. I dropped the case. 10 days later I got a legal bill for £9,000 plus from the bank.
At this stage my father lost his cool and phoned the chief executive of the bank to complain. They withdrew the bill. My sister was not promoted for 15 years, in fact she was moved from department to department and branch to branch.
I still feel very sore about it all, should the banks be allowed threaten people with legitimate claims. I wonder in how many more cases they have done this.
What would you do now?
I'd try the legal route again. You've nothing to loose. Its now 15 years on and the damage to your sister's career has already been done by the sounds of it. Get the handwriting expert you originally paid and represent yourself in court. That way you wont have to pay for a barrister. If you loose you are no worse off than you are now and hopefully not out of pocket too much. Persuming that you can represent yourself in court in this country.
If that fails go to the newspapers/Joe Duffy/anyone who will listen and name and shame the bank and the people involved. The public needs to know about these stories. The banks are walking all over everyone.
Thank you for your reply, I do not think I can sue them, the six year legal rule may apply, I would have to look for special dispensation because they threatened me.
I still do not have a personal account in any bank in Ireland.
Name the banks please.
I think I'd be trying to get a keen investigative reporter onside and do some digging with the aim of building a legal case and rattling some cages.
You could try publicise the case by writing to the major newspapers and television stations. The media are not exactly fond of the finincial institutions in this country.
I'd remove that post quickly (for your own good)
I took your advice and removed the Name & Shame info.
I'd say Joe Duffy would love to get stuck into that story.
Have you got any advice from Ombudsman's office?
Ombudsman's office only handles Government departments and semi-states. They told me it comes under the remit of IFSRA. What I would like to know is, how many more people did the banking fraternity use threats to force the withdraw of legal cases. I would think that I was not the only one.
What other forms of threats did they use?
How widespread was the practise?
Is it still going on today?
If IFSRA could get access to their legal departments, it would be intersesting to see the ratio of claims against cases settled.
I have contacted IFSRA and asked for their help.
Correction: the handwriting expert's name was Robert Radley
Hi. First of all, if that story is true, and I suspect every bit of it is, then I don't understand why you have to resort to discussion boards for advice. Spray this bloody news all over the tabloids, broadsheets, radio, tv and everywhere else you can think of. AND NAME AND SHAME EVERYONE INVOLVED! What do you have to lose. You were robbed, threatened and abused. DO NOT TAKE SOMETHING LIKE THIS LYING DOWN.
I cant believe you honestly thought that if you dropped the case then your sister et al would not be affected. That was very naive. The damage was done the first time you contacted them. They were never going to promote them again, regardless. I would advise your sister to get your previous accountant as a witness to what the bank legal guy said in his office about her career and sue the bank immediately for lost earnings. Anyway I dont want to rub salt in the wounds so I'll move on.
Basically, attack the Shysters and get back every penny you lost. Plus lost earnings. Theoretically that business could have grown into a multi-million euro corporation. Nobody can tell you otherwise.
These things only happen because people get away with it.
I really dont understand why you dont go public with this. Why?
EDIT: I understand you must be frustrated with the whole thing at this stage, and that my hot-headedness does not help, but this is a very serious matter and I wish you every success with it.
Thank you for your reply.
My sister who also happens to be my godchild knows nothing about what went on. My father asked me not to tell her. His view was that my sisters life was her own.
I met the banks legal person in the back office of my accountants. The accountant was not present it was one to one. On mature reflection the fact may be that the two of them set it up. They are both members of the same golf club. The accountant may have got a favour back from the bank at a later stage.
I met the bank manager who was sacked a number of years ago, he had bought a small hotel in Glenbeigh Co. Kerry. He apologised to me for what had gone on.
I know I can go the media route, I publish the Irish Media Guide but I have to be carefull of libel, Joe Duffy will be carefull too.
I have asked IFSRA to request my file from the bank's legal department, they have the power, I have also asked them to review the cases and reasons why cases were dropped in the bank.
Ok. Fair enough. Probably no harm to have kept it that way. On consideration though, her life was not really her own if it was being mapped out by someone else. I dont want to fan the flames but you only get one life, and if I found out mine was being manipulated like that I would become very aggressive. Perhaps a good idea to have kept it quiet.
I really do feel for you now. It seems like even your accountant may have been in on it. Are these guys still alive today? Is the Financial Regulator your only option now. They don't seem to have many powers at all.
They are all alive except for the Bank Manager. The legal person still works in the bank. What I would love to get a hold of is the communication from the CEO to the legal person requesting that the banks legal bill should be withdrawn. The former CEO is still alive.