Feb 07 - 13, 2005



Syed Saifuddin Ahmed is the Executive Vice President and Divisional Head of the Investigation Department of Habib Bank Limited. He is responsible for handling cases of bank fraud, forgery, robbery and dacoity in different branches of the bank. Besides dealing with fraud and forgery cases, Saif has to find out clues of the unresolved and mysterious matters within the bank. Having a keen insight and knack to resolve intricacies of mysterious cases, he applies undaunted nature and courage which is certainly a gift from the nature.

Saifuddin also lends a helping hand to his senior management for the recovery of bank funds. In view of his professional expertise and intelligence, the law enforcing agencies also benefit from his services privately while confronted with difficult cases of fraud and forgery. During his banking career he has gone through highly difficult situations while encountering with the bank robbers, dacoits, and gangsters and while handling them he never lose his nerves and peace of mind. The broken finger, signs of bruises and injuries on his body proves the evident of his adventurous nature of job.

Saifuddin joined Habib Bank in 1969. Besides, going through process of training in different fields including fraud prevention, detection and investigation, Saifuddin had opportunities to attend seminars and workshops related to bank investigations. When he shares his thrilling experiences people usually feel themselves as the part of some of the hair raising episodes.

PAGE: What do you think about the state of affairs in the banking sector especially regarding financial crime? What do you think are the cases of bank forgery and fraud were declining or they are increasing?

SAIFUDDIN AHMED: Unfortunately the cases of fraud and forgery were increasing to an alarming level. The most vulnerable areas for bank crimes are including pay orders and cheques which are on top of the list. Though the graph of the events of bank fraud and forgery was not so high until recent pass, however, cases of forgery have virtually become difficult to detect, many forgery cases come to light after many days of the commission of the crime. Some times, it becomes too late when the victims really come to know that they have been cheated. Thousands of forgery cases were detected where then forged cheque and pay orders were apparently so deceptive that it becomes extremely difficult to draw a line between the genuine and the forged papers.



PAGE: What can be the real factors behind rising graph of forgery and frauds in the banking system?

SAIFUDDIN AHMED: The key factor behind increasing trend of forgery in banking system is the "living beyond the means which has become a social malaise in the society besides support of the influential people encouraging the crimes. Without having a strong support and backing by the influential quarters, people involved in the crime would dare of committing the crime. It is highly painful that support by the strong lobbies of the influential people was behind the crime in majority of the cases detected so far.

In one of such fraud cases, the man caught who was involved in the fraud case in Eidgah area was so daring confident of his support that he challenged in front of many people that he would not remain in police custody more than two hours. And that daring challenge clearly proved of a strong backing provided by the power people behind the crime. The increasing cost of living in the backdrop of generally low income to a large segment of the society was the real factor behind pushing up the crime rate because living beyond the means compels the people to find out the short cuts. Another factor is 'insecure movement' of pay orders and cheques. The outburst of modern technology especially the information technology has made it much easier to copy signatures. The well informed and organized gangs operating in the financial sector find it easy to forge signatures of hefty account holders. People involved in producing forged signatures usually confine themselves with the process of forged signature, they usually don't involve themselves into commission of the crime and other part of frauds but only confined to copy the signatures. They charge heavily for their services of producing forged signatures on the cheques while rest of the job is done by others. These forged documents are so close to the real ones that they give a real shock to the victims when they come to know that these were not their original cheques. The recent investigations suggest that we are in need of immediate reforms especially in the law enforcing agencies to convey a clear message to the criminals that they will be handled with an iron hand by the law of the land. Actually, the entire banking system revolves around signature; this is the key area which calls of special attention to protect the banking system from the cheats.

Money transactions of huge amount are carried out on the basis of signatures. Though, under the preventive measurers we have issued several instructions to handle the huge amount cheques and pay orders with care. We have immediate contact link of the pay order or cheque owners of big account holders. Practically speaking, the banks don't entertain cheques of huge amounts without ensuring authenticity of the papers and the signatures.