Unexplained unauthorized takeover of company account at OCBC raises concerns over new law

Unexplained unauthorized takeover of company account at OCBC raises concerns over new law

by Goh Chye Guan

When I went to OCBC Bank in February 2016 to close a company bank account in which I was the sole shareholder and director of the company and sole signatory of the bank account, I was shocked to learn from the bank staff that I was NOT the signatory of the bank account and hence could not close the said bank account.

Immediately, given the above facts, I questioned the OCBC counter staff as to how this could have happened without my knowledge and authorisation.

When I asked the OCBC counter staff who was the “new” signatory then.

The first obstacle I experienced was the refusal by the OCBC staff to answer my question.

Only when I threatened to call the police, did the officer reveal the identity of the “new” signatory, for whom I knew I did not authorise the change.

I confronted the new signatory of the bank account and compelled him to close it in my presence at an OCBC bank branch in June 2016, in order to prevent any potential illegal activities associated with the bank account.

Until today, OCBC does not and/or refuses to provide any explanation to me on “how”, “when”, and “why” my signature was replaced;

After exhausting my personal efforts to find the answers, I reported the case to the Police on 9 Aug 2016.

The Police Investigating Officer (IO) did show me in an interview in 2018 an OCBC authorisation form signed by my previous partner to remove himself as a signatory of the said bank account when my previous partner left the company.

However, the Police IO could not show me similar authorisation form signed by me to remove myself as sole signatory of the said bank account.

I am very certain that I did not sign such an authorisation form to relinquish myself as a sole signatory for the said bank account.

After that, I approached the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in September 2020 by way of a report lodged on the MAS website. A MAS officer Ms Audrey Teh called me and informed me that OCBC would respond to me.

Subsequently, one OCBC officer by the name of Ms Lena Li responded by asking me to engage a lawyer to write to OCBC to request for the authorisation form.

Even when I had my lawyers write to OCBC on 3 Apr 2023, OCBC still refused to respond.

This is a recurring obstacle I faced with OCBC in the last 7 years.

When I went to OCBC Chulia Street personally on 24 Apr 2023 following their failure to respond to my lawyer’s letter, I was shown something I already have seen before: OCBC blank copies of OCBC Board Resolution Form and Business-account-update-form.

It still did not show me the document, which removed me as the signatory of the bank account.

OCBC, by showing me these blank forms, was merely distracting me from what I was desperately and truly seeking.

After I wrote to the Association of Banks in Singapore, of which OCBC is a member, I received an email from Ms Jessica from OCBC with a ‘DO NOT REPLY’ email address, basically asking me to wait for their response.

I wanted to tell Ms Jessica of OCBC that I have been waiting for close to 7 years for an answer.

And now, with the 2nd reading of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) (Amendment) Bill by Minister Josephine Teo in the Parliament on 9 May 2023, I am very concerned that my company and myself can be misconstrued as a ‘money mule’ or someone who “voluntarily allow another person(s) to access, operate or control his payment account” and “one who failed to take reasonable steps to find out the purpose of this arrangement”;

I am sharing this story not just for fellow Singaporeans to be aware of what could happen to their bank accounts but also as my desperate cry for help to seek an answer OCBC could easily provide.

I simply cannot understand how as the sole signatory of a company bank account, how could my signatory be changed without my authorisation?

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