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?