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BML: Qasim violated bank’s whistleblower policy

Bank of Maldives (BML) says its former Manager of F. Nilandhoo Branch, Qasim Abdul Kareem acted in violation of the bank’s whistleblower policy in leaking confidential information linked with the MMPRC embezzlement scandal.

BML sent a memo on its policies to its employees last Monday in which it said the bank had diligently informed authorities of suspicious activities in the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and SOF Private Limited’s bank accounts since 2014.

“We note that the bank is legally obligated to report on transactions of bank accounts over MVR 200,000 to the MMA’s Financial Intelligence Unit [as a threshold transaction report],” wrote the company in its memo to employees.

The bank said allegations being made against the company over the social media were false. And that the bank has been diligent in fulfilling all its legal obligations.

BML said it was also fully cooperative to the Auditor General’s Office when it investigated and released the MMPRC audit report on February 4, 2016.

BML said Qasim violated the bank’s regulations when he leaked confidential customer information to irrelevant parties.

It said Qasim accessed the Bank Customers Account Statement at 19:32 on February 14, 2016, went through details of SOF Private Limited’s bank account and downloaded a PDF copy of the account at 19:38.

The bank said he also accessed BML’s Banking System between 16:08 and 21:11 the same day and took screen prints of individual transactions made by the SOF bank account.

“He created the email and emailed all this information to individual citizens, businesses, and several employees of BML.”

The memo says Qasim violated banking ethics in violating the security of the SOF bank account.

The bank referred to Qasim’s statement that he took the action to investigate the truth of rumors going around at the time, but said Qasim made no attempt to make the clarifications by asking the upper management.

“Furthermore, he, with full knowledge of the policy for whistleblowing in his position as a manager at the bank, chose not to make use of the principles. If he had not chosen the course of action he took, he would have found out the information had already been provided by the bank to investigative authorities. It is sad Qasim did not clarify the measures the bank had taken in the matter before choosing the course of action he took.”

BML said Qasim failed to realize the information he obtained and leaked illegally was already supplied by the bank to relevant authorities in compliance with the law.

It said that if the bank had not taken the necessary measures, the actions of Qasim would have led to the loss of trust in the bank by its customers, international banks associated with BML and financial institutions.

“Any damage to Bank of Maldives is sure to have an adverse effect on the financial system of the entire country,” wrote the bank.

BML said it was sympathetic to the difficulties Qasim is undergoing due to his actions, but that Qasim was wrong to have taken the action. “And the bank is legally obligated to take action against him”.

BML said the employees of the bank hold high-responsibility jobs. The biggest responsibility being the security of the bank accounts and transactions of its customers.

The bank said Article 41 of Chapter 7 of Banking Act guarantees the confidentiality of information of accounts opened in banks, and the Article 42 prohibits all present and former bank employees, MMA and bank auditors, and all employees of agencies legally obligated to directly or indirectly investigate such information from revealing the information to anyone.

BML said it briefs all its new employees on protection of account information and IT system.

“BML is run in compliance with the international standard for corporate governance and is independently audited. Given that it’s the largest bank in the Maldives and two thirds of the bank’s shares are controlled by the State, we are aware of drawing crossfire from some political statements. But we take this opportunity to assure you the bank has never and will never allow any illegal financial transactions and will reject any such offer [for an illegal financial transaction],” wrote BML, in its memo to employees.

BML said the bank considered integrity its most important principle. And that the Board of Directors, CEO and management of the bank encourages its employees to act beyond reproach.

“The adverse effects obstacles to development efforts by the bank and loss of trust in BML from the international banks we depend on due to these false accusations will be felt by Maldivian businesses, and all Maldivian citizens who engage in financial transactions,” wrote the bank.

Qasim, who leaked the information on MMPRC transactions was sentenced to eight months and 12 days in prison.

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