I need your help in unravelling a difficult situation.
I bought manager's cheques at NCB Windward Road branch on May 21, 2013 to do a vehicle purchase transaction at the Kingston wharf. The cheques were made out to "Collector of Customs".
The cheques were to be used to purchase a motor vehicle. Cash valued at $80,000 was also a part of the transaction.
The transaction, however, turned out to be fraudulent. This matter has since been reported to the police and a report from the police was done and a copy is currently at the Collector of Customs as well as the Windward Road NCB.
On the same day of the transaction when the person I was doing business with took the cheques and cash and disappeared, I called the bank and asked them to cancel the cheque because I was the victim of a scam. They told me that they could not cancel the cheques.
The following day I went to the bank to talk with the Operations Manager and she gave me an "indemnity" form to fill out which I did. But Customs refused to sign it when I took it to them.
The next day I went back and the branch manager interviewed me. I explained the situation to him and he checked to see if the cheques were encashed, but they were not. He told me he would have to contact the head office.
The following evening he called and told me that I could only get back the money if after one year the cheques were not encashed.
I have since written to the NCB CEO and asked for his intervention in the matter but I have not heard from him.
Please help me. The cheques total $413,500, and I borrowed the money from my company to purchase the vehicle.
After we contacted NCB you said that they wrote to you and stated the following:
"Please be advised that we have placed "cautions" on the captioned manager's cheques as a result of the letters from yourself and the Organised Crime Investigations Unit.
"Nevertheless, as these cheques are manager's cheques which are drawn on the Bank, we may not be able to refuse to honour the cheques if they are presented for payment by another bank or the payee which had previously given value for these cheques.
"We would therefore not be in a position to return the funds to you unless the cheques are returned to us (either by you or by another bank at which the cheques are presented for payment) or if you provide us with a Court Order.
"Alternatively, the bank may be willing to return the funds to you in exchange for an appropriate Indemnity supported by security which is acceptable to the bank."
Tell Claudienne asked NCB to clarify whether the Banking Act or Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) regulations governed the honouring of manager's cheques.
NCB stated the following:
"The Automated Clearing House (ACH) Rules, promulgated by the Jamaica Clearing Bankers Association (JCBA) whose members comprise the Bank of Jamaica and the island's six commercial banks, details how matters of this nature should be handled.
"Under the Clearing House Rules: "A Drawee may not return a Manager's Cheque properly prepared and disbursed, unless the Item is returned for the reason that an endorsement is forged, missing or incomplete, or for the reason that the Item has been altered subsequent to issuance, where the item has been fraudulently negotiated, or any other legal bar." It is important to note that these exceptions would not be applicable in the customer's situation."
We also asked NCB what would be an appropriate indemnity supported by security that would be acceptable to the bank.
NCB stated the following:
"We had indicated to her that the bank would return the funds to her if she provided us with a Court Order (thereby falling within the "any other legal bar" exception). Additionally, the customer was also advised that the bank may be willing to return the funds in exchange for an appropriate Indemnity supported by security which is acceptable to the bank. This is to say that the bank is willing to consider accepting security valued in the amount of the manager's cheque in question. We are currently having discussions with our customer in this regard."
You asked NCB to clarify the duration of time for which you would have to put up the security, and they have advised you that if you did not get indemnity from the Collector of Customs they would hold the security for two to three years.
When the manager's cheques fraud occurred, NCB gave you an indemnity form but you said that Customs refused to sign it.
The NCB spokesperson pointed out that because Customs accepts manager's cheques, cash and debit and credit cards, your manager's cheques that were made out to the Collector of Customs could still be given to them for a legitimate transaction.
NCB said that without the indemnity you would need a guarantor or collateral to the amount of the liability. The spokesperson who spoke to you this week said that you told them that you were making a last-ditch effort to get Customs to sign the indemnity.
Have a problem with a store, utility, a company: telephone
936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica
Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail:
edwardsc@jamaicaobserver. com. Please include a contact phone number.