Ex-banker to lose loot
FID signals intention to recoup assets after guilty plea in $34-m fraud caseFriday, April 30, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
The Financial Investigations Division (FID) on Thursday signalled its intention to recoup any wealth gained by Andrea Gordon, the former National Commercial Bank (NCB) senior manager who fleeced the bank of $34 million over three years.
Gordon on Thursday pleaded guilty to 13 counts on an indictment charging her with three counts of larceny as a servant, three counts of cybercrime and seven counts of money laundering before Supreme Court Judge Justice Lorna Shelly-Williams in downtown Kingston. She is to be sentenced on May 31 this year.
At the time of her arrest Gordon, who was employed to NCB for approximately 30 years, was the manager of the bank's Operations Centre at 29 Trafalgar Road in St Andrew. Her last recorded salary was in the amount of just over $11.1 million annually.
According to the allegations outlined before the court, internal investigations were sparked after information received revealed that Gordon's assigned password had been used to access the bank's system and several transactions posted, which constituted a breach of the bank's policies. The transactions, which “appeared to be fraudulent”, saw funds from the bank's internal accounts being posted to Gordon's account as well as accounts belonging to relatives and other customers.
According to the allegations before the court, investigations revealed that Gordon posted approximately 282 suspicious transactions totalling $111,262,660.21. The transactions were done between February 2017 and May 2020.
She was, however, indicted only for $34 million.
On Thursday, the court heard that in 2020, when Gordon was confronted by a bank official and asked to clarify the transactions, she asked about the accounts to which the entries were processed then reportedly put her head on her desk and broke down in tears stating, “It is really bad, it is really bad,” before going on to say that she had been taking the funds to help a sick relative.
When advised that her explanation was not reasonable, as the bank provides various avenues to deal with matters of that nature, she reportedly said, “I can't explain it, but it's real bad.”
When asked if she could provide an estimated date of when the activities started she responded, “early 2017”, then asked “what is the figure” the bank was looking at. When told it appeared to be heading into hundreds of millions she reportedly said, “I don't think it is so much.”
She then asked for her regret to be conveyed to the senior manager, stating that she was sorry for what she had done.
In a further confession Gordon said she had started taking the funds, first to help a cousin who was stricken with cancer. However, according to information placed in the records of the court, over $24 million had been passed from the bank's accounts into accounts belonging to a contractor working on her house. Gordon said she had transferred funds to his account and then asked for him to pay her back some of the money.
Gordon is facing charges on several counts of engaging in a transaction involving criminal property in which she made payments for items of clothing, works done on a property belonging to her, tickets to the Gibson Relays, and repairs to a house she had bought which needed major overhaul. Numerous cheques were drawn on the bank's accounts to make payments to several business entities.
On Thursday, the FID's representative indicated to the Court that it would be making an application for a forfeiture pecuniary penalty order to be filed under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The order is one of two which may be made against an individual after they are convicted. A “pecuniary penalty order” is one in which the defendant is ordered to pay to the Crown an amount equal to the value of the benefit he/she received from his/her criminal conduct. Before this order is made, the court has to determine whether a defendant has a criminal lifestyle and has benefited from his/her general criminal conduct; or, where the defendant does not have a criminal lifestyle, whether the defendant has benefited from the particular criminal conduct for which he/she has been convicted.
In the meantime, Attorney Vincent Wellesley, who represented Gordon, took the Crown to task for putting the $111 million on the record in light of the fact that his client was only being indicted for her actions in respect of the $34 million.
“I find it unreasonable,” he told the judge. “The Crown has outlined a sum which is more than what is here on the indictment. I believe that was done to cause prejudice to your ladyship's mind when it comes on to sentencing and any application the defence wishes to make. I am not pleased with what the Crown did, because the Crown knows better than that. I believe it was a deliberate action.”
In pleading for Gordon's bail to be extended to allow her to attend to “certain matters”, he said his client, who had been on bail prior to Thursday, had been compliant and cooperative with the requests made by the Court at every step.
“Miss Gordon knew what she was up against. As a matter of a fact, from the very inception Miss Gordon indicated to me... that she wished to enter a plea of guilty. She is not a flight risk, and that is why I ask you to give her some days so she can settle [her affairs]. It is my view that certain things are imminent. She intended to plead guilty long before today,” the attorney said.
Justice Shelly-Williams, in denying the request for bail, indicated that she would pay attention to the figures quoted in the indictment as against what was said when the facts of the case were being outlined.
Gordon, while being escorted from the courtroom in handcuffs on Thursday, gave last-minute instructions over her shoulder to two women who had attended the hearing in support of her.