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FNB being sued for R103m by customer it accused of fraud

Nav Chan has waged a noisy social media campaign against the bank for what he says is financial defamation.
Secretly blacklisted because of ‘administrative errors’ by the bank, Chan has been cleared of all charges. Image: Nadine Hutton, Bloomberg

For nearly eight years, Durban businessman Nav Chan has waged a relentless social media war against FNB, which accused him of fraud for misrepresenting his income when applying for credit cards with FNB and its partners, Discovery and Kulula.

Chan’s name ended up on an anti-fraud database operated by the SA Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS), which is shared by the banks and retailers for the most part.

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What alarmed Chan was the fact that he was merely suspected of fraud, and yet suddenly he was persona non-grata, not just with FNB, but Absa as well. It seemed no one wanted to touch him. In the blink of an eye, he says, his import-export business was strangled by a lack of cash.

Before this all started in 2013, Chan had a perfectly clean credit record.

He only found out about the secret SAFPS blacklisting when his green ID book went missing and he tried to have it replaced. “The police told me my name was blacklisted on this database I had never heard of before, called Shamwari, which is operated by the SAFPS. I’m all for fraud prevention, so I wanted to help them clear up what was an obvious mistake,” says Chan.

That was easier said than done. Chan asked to see if there was a criminal charge against him so he could address it, but that only came later.

When Chan laid a complaint with the Public Protector (then headed by Thuli Madonsela) and the National Credit Regulator, FNB and Absa removed his name from the Shamwari database.

Yet the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided to push on with the case after FNB pressed criminal charges of fraud.

FNB’s 2013 fraud charges against Chan accuse him of supplying false information while applying for the FNB Platinum credit card, as well as cards from Kulula and Discovery.

Read: FNB wants you to ditch your physical cards

FNB also accused him of supplying false information when later applying for a bank account upgrade and an increase in credit card facilities. In all, he was facing seven charges of fraud.

What the bank seems to have missed – something that was clarified in the 2017 magistrate’s court transcript – was that Chan’s salary was paid into an offshore account, with money transferred to his FNB Platinum card account as and when needed. It was not paid into his FNB Platinum account, nor does there appear to be a document obligating him to do this.

Bank could have picked up the phone

Chan denied all of the charges against him, saying the information provided was at all times correct, and that bank staff were guilty of basic administrative errors which could have been easily verified had they bothered to pick up the phone and ask. But he also suspects he became a target for the bank after repeatedly questioning how it was calculating its eBucks rewards.

When the matter came before the Durban Magistrates Court in 2017, FNB admitted that it had not lost any money as a result of Chan’s alleged fraud, and the case was dismissed.

Chan was cleared on all seven counts.

One of the bank’s own witnesses described him as a model client, and the transcript of the trail shows bank investigators made little effort to verify the authenticity of the income statements provided by Chan when applying for credit facilities.

R3m in legal fees

Chan was not done with the bank yet. Already R3 million in the hole for legal fees, he is now suing the bank for R103 million in damages, which is revenue lost as a result of the “financial defamation” he says he has endured as well as the impact on his import-export business. The damages figure was calculated by a professor of accounting at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Chan, who has a masters degree in business from the University of Chicago, has been trolling FNB for years, building up a steady following on social media and keeping them up to speed on the latest developments in his case.

At one point, FNB offered to withdraw its charges against him provided he issue a public apology and refrain from any further adverse publicity for the bank. Chan refused.

In June 2020, Chan served summons on FNB, arguing that in laying charges of fraud against him, the bank and its employees “had no reasonable or probable cause for doing so nor did it have any reasonable belief in the truth of the information given”.

On this basis, Chan says the charges made against him were done maliciously and in bad faith.

FNB’s argument

In its reply to the summons, FNB denies the allegations of malice and bad faith, and the fact that Chan suffered damages in the amount of R103 million.

FNB is defending the matter, arguing that Chan failed to take necessary steps to avert any loss of income arising from the NPA’s prosecution, and for dragging out the prosecution and failing to cooperate with the police.

Read:

Asked to comment on the case, FNB’s head of legal Shaun Chelin, replied: “FNB confirms it is currently dealing with legal proceedings involving [Chan]. The bank denies it is liable for any claim and is defending the matter in court. Due to the ongoing legal process, we cannot provide any further information at this stage.”

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Just imagine the case of fraud and money laundering the people of SA could bring against the ANC.

All respect to Chan for pursuing this. And shame on FNB.

“How cam we help you?”

Absolute joke.

Having worked for banks, I can tell you that they are the most unethical businesses I have ever encountered.

Nothing that they ever do is in favour of the customer. In fact, the contracts that they force you into are extremely onerous on customers.

It should be made illegal for banks to share information with other institutions without the client’s discretionary consent. However, they do this regardless and when they stuff up, they put the onus on you to prove your innocense.

I had the same with Standard Bank twice this year when they blocked my account for attempted fraud simply because I logged into internet banking from a different computer to what I usually use. It took 3 days to unblock my account and in the interim, all my month-end payments were late as a result.

What right does a bank have to effectively force me to log in from the same computer every time simply because their internal fraud prevention practices are too weak.

Theu don’t allow me to use a TFA dongle, but instead force me to simply have a username and password with a cellphone confirmation that throws it wide open to SIM swap fraud.

Why wont they let me have a TFA dongle? I can only think that it is to hide the extent of criminal propagation within their organisation that would then finally prove that the fraud occurring in banking is within the banks themselves instead of pointing at cellphone companies.

Maybe … lets also start with Corporates as well.

Plenty DISHONEST companies out there!

FNB sent me a warning letter two years ago. I must come declare that I have no foreign bank accounts or else they will close/freeze my bank accounts in two weeks.

I did not have foreign bank accounts and wish I did. Maybe they could show me where I have money? Maybe some dollars and euros

I gave them a last warning.
Look at my investments? I will move them all to another bank!

No surprise here – it’s FNB. Hope they have their pants removed to be dry-cleaned for this victimisation.

Only trouble will be the bank will raise it’s fees across all other customers to pay if they lose…

Full support for Nav Chan. Your playing the victom, yes FNB, sorry FNB, please don’t charge me more FNB. The free market will create new banks/services when the existing ones become unaffordable, and you have the choice to move.

Lovely.
I am all for the ‘small man’ in the face of corporate arrogance and abuse.

What I hate most about big ( or small/medium ) corporate companies is there bragging about billions in profits while on the other hand complaining about the economy!

“At one point, FNB offered to withdraw its charges against him provided he issue a public apology and refrain from any further adverse publicity for the bank. Chan refused.”

Sounds more like they should have offered him an public apology and paid his legal fees, but no, they are arrogant. Hope he screws them.

how can you win a case against a bank (or whoever) and the useless judge doesn’t force the losing party to reimburse the winners legal fees plus damages (decided by the judge)

what is then the point in actually going to court? pathetic legal system

All these rules on ethics and treat your client fairly does not seem to apply to banks.
FNB home valuation will go out and tell the court your property is of high value and because it’s in a trust they can sell it with no reserve. After client offer to pay 40% of outstanding as lump sum and settle rest over 2 years, they go ahead and sell it for 15% of the valuation value.
Perfectly legal says the lawyers.
The bank don’t worry as they’ve been paid by insurance for the bond and now double dipping.
Getting a lawyer who will go after these banks are also not easy to find as most would rather fill their pockets with the banks easy money.

The Home loan / bond also most likely sold through securitization… the bank thus losing no money…

@ Moonie – exactly the same thing happened to my brother. Worst of all is that there was collusion between said Banks, Rosie Viljoen Estates and the Sheriff of the Alberton Courts.
We had a buyer with a pre-bond and yet the Sheriff deliberately changed the venue so that we could not bid for my brothers R1,5m house with only R600k owing.
Was sold for R200k and banks still asking for the balance. Bastardo’s.

I read with interest the part where mr Chan’s salary was paid into his off-shore acc. Hope you have all your matters in order with SARS, mr Chan, otherwise you opened up another can of worms. But good luck nevertheless.

Even more interesting surely is that he was breaking SA capital controls law. It’s on the way out but it’s definitely still in force. You can’t just draw on foreign income “as and when” you feel like it. All foreign currency has to be offered for sale within 30 days. Easily Googled.

Not necessarily breaking any forex laws. Easy to get approval, and easy for declaration.

8 years on…. and nothing. Another 8 years, the victim will be broke and mentally smashed.

Bank? Walks away…..

These banks are the scum of the earth!!!!

First comes politicians , 2nd lawyers . Banks maybe 10th.

In this case FNB needs to apologize. Hope he gets him 103 million

FNB is a dishonest bank! Not what they claim to be!

I don’t wanna here anything about FNB.

Spark, I’ve heard that Capitec bank is the only SA bank allowing one to bypass SMS verification on internet banking via a dongle? Not 100% sure of that, but it’s worth checking out

I refer to the Moneyweb article published 16/1/2020 on my case “Former Belgian Investment banker hauls RMB to court over a failed property deal” Exactly the same story as I read today about FNB’s shameless lies, behaviour and corrupt acting liquidating innocent people.

In our case FNB could obtain an unfair sequestration verdict based on deliberate perjury to hide an unlawful extortion scheme. The perjury and the fraudulent financial scheme the Bank victimised us with they wanted to hide from the Courts and the public are for the moment under investigation with the Hawks since April 2019.
FNB mislead 4 honourable judges presenting them fake organograms and false Affidavits to hide this fraudulent scheme transgressing the Bank Act and Companies Act All can be proven thanks to documents we could compel from the bank by Court order. However the banks are the rulers of Justice manipulating Court procedures facing us with very expensive legal costs that one is obliged to withdraw and undergo the consequences of the fake judgements.
Due to the sequestration I was obliged to return to my home country Belgium.
Coincidental with todays article I reported FNB’s Court perjury, their scheme and liable staff to the Belgium police and the financial authorities who will start investigations – I received my case number.
The only way left over to get justice is reporting the bank fraud to the police and count on media support who are our fourth leg to defend our constitutional rights. Many thanks to the Moneyweb editor and the
journalist for reporting the banks fraud. I hope they will pick up case again and confront FNB with the new facts. I trust that the Hawks will soon bring justice so we can pick u our life again.

I believe you.

and great to hear that you are intending to go the Whole 18 yards.

I wish you all the success!

Wow….these banks!

In 2013 ABSA called to inform me that someone applied for a credit and wanted to verify it was me, I said I did not apply.
They asked and I gave them affidavit to that effect. They advised that I better allow them to register my name with SAFPS against future impersonation which are common once it has been attempted; I agreed.

ABSA then registered my name as a fraudster.

SAFPS would not rectify the error insisting only ABSA can. ABSA was refusing saying there’s nothing they can do I just have to wait 12 (or whatever) years for the record to be expunged.

From 2013 until 2018 I could not successfully apply for anything for which the service/product provider would check against SAFPS database.

I fought long and hard and until they removed my name….

I feel Mr Chan’s pain.

FNB is an institution that goes onto my list of institutions to never let my money near, to never do business with. Neither for my entourage and any one or any organisations with whom / which I have any influence with.

End of comments.

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