An HSBC official was sacked in recent weeks over suspicions he was siphoning off cash from his clients’ loan accounts.
The official, an ex-manager in HSBC’s mortgages section, is suspected of withdrawing tranches of unutilised loan balances granted for reasons like home improvements.
It is suspected that the manager drew up bogus invoices and receipts which he would then process as if they were genuine requests from clients to withdraw their unitised loans balances.
The money would then be withdrawn from the bank clients’ accounts without their knowledge.
Clients who noticed the unauthorised withdrawals would often have their complaints directed to the same official suspected of carrying out the fraud.
One source privy to the alleged fraud claimed the manager would then carry out further unauthorised withdrawals from a different client account to repay the money taken from clients who had noticed the suspect withdrawals.
Another HSBC bank source said a “serious” internal probe to establish the scale of the suspected fraud is ongoing.
Police investigations ongoing
Separate police investigations are also underway, a police spokesperson confirmed.
The police spokesperson, however, declined to provide further details.
An HSBC Malta spokesperson told Times of Malta that the bank is not in a position to comment on cases relating to individual customers or employees.
“We take our role of protecting the interests of our customers and the wider financial system very seriously and expect our employees to adhere to the highest standards of conduct,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said HSBC has zero-tolerance for fraudulent activities, and where there is evidence of misconduct, the bank takes appropriate action, liaising with all parties concerned and informing the police and relevant authorities.
HSBC did not specify how many clients may have been impacted and the amounts of money involved.
Questions were also left unanswered about how the alleged fraud, which is suspected to have been carried out over a long period of time, was not detected by the bank earlier.