The Lying Game – How Can We Ever Trust Our Bankers?! | Introduction: | Where have the days gone when we could have trusted our bank and bankers to safeguard our hard-earned savings with integrity, transparency, and professionalism? These days most of us find ourselves in a constant 24/7 sleepless worry as we stress out over anything from unjustified bank fees or penalties, funds mysteriously missing from our account, or the more prevalent these days, Ponzi schemes, account hackings, and identity theft. However, nothing instills more fear and distrust of banks and bankers into us than reading news about the massive fraud cases happening around the world. Fraud perpetrated by the likes of Bernard Madoff, Allen Stanford, Kazutsugi Nami, and many others, where billions in hard-earned wealth were completely wiped out with thousands of innocent lives destroyed and left helplessly destitute as a result. One only need to Google search “cheating bankers” or, “lying bankers” or, “bank fraud,” etc. on the internet to find hundreds (if not thousands) of articles on the subject. It’s truly frightening! | Unfortunately for me, what began in 2005 as an exciting and potentially life-changing turning point in my life, instead turned into a long and horrible nightmare in 2010 after my entire account was virtually wiped out in the hands my former private bankers at Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore. A lengthy, complicated, and hard-fought lawsuit subsequently ensued, which took place in Singapore from 2011 to 2016. However, we are still not quite done yet as we are awaiting our appeal of the defense lawyer’s exorbitantly high legal costs bill. | I have now reached the point where I am ready to move on with my life. But before any semblance of closure can be achieved, I felt I needed to share my harrowing experience with the worldwide public, to inform everyone of the clear and present danger in our midst, and to encourage everyone out there to be more vigilant and not to take it for granted that our banks and bankers are always acting in our best interest. | A Brief Background: | Back in 2000, a relative had referred me to the team leader of this Singapore based private banking team who were with another offshore private bank at the time, but transferred to the private bank of Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore very shortly after. These three private bankers worked together closely and are the bankers I will be referring to in this write-up. | “PB1” (Private Banker 1): She was the Team Leader of the private banking team at Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore and a witness for the defendant during the court proceedings and at the trial. | “PB2” (Private Banker 2): She was PB1’s Service Assistant at Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA and a witness for the defendant during the court proceedings and at the trial. | “Defendant” (Private Banker): He was the designated Account Relationship Manager assigned to service my account at Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore. However, most of my communication throughout the banking relationship was with PB1 (due to her close relationship with my relative) and PB2. | Shortly after the referral, I had called PB1 on the phone and informed her that I needed a safe and trustworthy place to keep my money as I was saving up to design and build my very first home to settle down and that I did not want to lose ANY of my capital. Although I did not meet the minimum US$1 million account opening requirement, the bank and bankers were willing to make an exception in my case due to their close relationship with the referring relative. My account was subsequently opened with these bankers in late 2000. However, for the first few years, there were no active investments in the account except for some occasional Foreign Currency transactions that PB1 had recommended to me. | Then came 2005 when a company and stock called “Amaru, Inc.” was first introduced to me by PB1 and the defendant. Numerous specific representations (listed under “My Version of Events”) were made by the defendant which resulted in my three separate purchases totaling 200,000 shares of Amaru. Inc. stock from between March 2005 to January 2006. However, after more than a year had passed and none of the representations had materialized, I then grew increasingly suspicious. I eventually filed my formal complaint with the head of Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore in March 2010, which was subsequently forwarded to their head office in Geneva, Switzerland. Having spent several months of back and forth written exchanges with the bank’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland (till early 2011), and having received an unsatisfactory result with my formal complaint, I then commenced legal action against my former private banker (the defendant) in Singapore on February 28, 2011. Note that although PB1 was just as involved in the offering and sale of Amaru, Inc. stock to other clients at the bank and me, it was the defendant who had made the misrepresentations to me, and as such, he was the only defendant named in my lawsuit. | My lawsuit against the defendant concerned numerous negligent verbal misrepresentations that he had made about Amaru, Inc. at a meeting held in PB1’s office (with PB1 present) at the private bank of Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore on the morning of March 4, 2005. Substantial losses to my account were incurred due to these misrepresentations. | Unfortunately, my case (trial date – April 2016) against the defendant was surprisingly dismissed by the Singapore Courts in December 2016. However, I feel that there is an overwhelming list of verifiable documented facts, evidence, blatant lies, inconsistencies, and ridiculous defense testimonies on public record to incontrovertibly show that these bankers had lied under oath, and this is what I want to be made known to the world. I may have lost this first battle, but I have not lost the war. | For the record, I had been nothing but honest, truthful, and transparent throughout the entire court proceedings and at the trial. And as such, I’d be more than willing to take a polygraph test to prove this. If the defendant and his witnesses insist that they have indeed been truthful, then they should have no qualms whatsoever about also submitting to a polygraph test. I now submit the following and will let the public decide whether justice was done. | My Version of Events: | I was living in Vancouver, Canada at the time and had just arrived back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to visit relatives for the February 2005 Chinese New Year holidays. I had met up with a relative at his office, and the first thing he asked me was whether PB1 or the defendant had mentioned anything to me about a hot stock that they had highly recommended and gotten him to buy? I replied, no. I then asked him what it was all about, but he was too busy at the time and insisted that I give PB1 a call to get all the details. Shortly after lunch that day, I called PB1, but she told me that she could not discuss this over the phone and to come in to meet at her office at the bank in Singapore. I subsequently extended my transit stay in Singapore on my way back to Vancouver, Canada. The meeting at the private bank of Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore was confirmed for the morning of March 4, 2005, and took place in PB1’s office with both PB1 and the defendant present. | At this meeting, the defendant gave what I would describe as his “SALES PITCH” where he had made numerous specific representations regarding a stock called Amaru, Inc. that they were actively promoting to their private clients at the bank. The representations made to me were: | That the bankers were assisting Amaru, Inc.’s CEO (Colin Binny) to raise funds for the company through a private offering of Amaru, Inc. stock at US$3 per share; | That the company was to be listed on the US NASDAQ Stock Exchange in 12-18 months, and that I would be able to sell my shares immediately upon listing; | That the projected price target for the stock after listing would be between $15-20 from an initial investment purchase price of $3 per share, but that we would sell our shares at around $11-12 so as not to be too greedy; | That the defendant had a close relationship with Amaru, Inc.’s CEO (Colin Binny) and therefore had easy access to the latest news updates and non-public information. | Immediately after the defendant’s sales pitch, I had expressed an interest to purchase 150,000 shares of Amaru, Inc. stock, but was told by PB1 that their stock allocation was insufficient to satisfy my request. PB1 informed me that she only had 100,000 shares left in their allocation and would let me know as soon as another 50,000 shares became available. I agreed, and PB1 immediately called PB2 into her office and instructed her to draft the letter of instruction to purchase the first 100,000 shares of Amaru, Inc. stock. Some 5 minutes later, PB2 returned to PB1’s office with the letter of instruction dated March 4, 2005 (Please see the FIRST LETTER OF INSTRUCTION under Bankers’ Version of Events) and placed it on PB1’s desk for me to sign in the presence of the defendant, PB1, and PB2. (Note that because this first letter of instruction was signed at the bank in the presence of all three bankers that there were no fax markings (time stamps) on it.) | A couple or so weeks later, I was contacted by one of the bankers and informed that the further 50,000 Amaru, Inc. shares were available. The second letter of instruction (dated March 23, 2005) was this time drafted and e-mailed to me by PB2 since I was already back in Vancouver, Canada at this time. I then signed this letter of instruction and faxed it back to PB2 at the bank in Singapore, as instructed by her. (Note that this second letter of instruction included fax markings (time stamp) which corresponded precisely to account for the time difference between Vancouver, Canada and Singapore.) | In late 2005, I was back in Asia visiting for the year-end holidays and had met up for lunch with PB1 and the defendant in Singapore. This was when the defendant told me that he and Colin Binny (the then CEO of Amaru, Inc.) were Singapore “army buddies” and therefore they knew each other well. I then took the opportunity to mention my parents’ interest in purchasing some Amaru, Inc. stock and asked PB1 if they had an additional 22,000 shares available? PB1 told me they did not, but that she would see what could be arranged. | A week or two later, I called PB1 to follow up, and she informed me that they had asked Colin Binny for a “special favor,” and that he had agreed to sell me some of his Amaru, Inc. stock at US$4.30 per share. But, since the stock only came in 50,000 share blocks, that this was the minimum number of shares I would have to purchase. I agreed, proceeded to raise funds, and completed the purchase in January 2006. PB2 e-mailed to me this third letter of instruction dated January 9, 2006, to purchase these 50,000 shares of Amaru, Inc. stock. Since I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the time, this was where I received, signed, and faxed the third letter of instruction back to PB2 at the bank in Singapore. (Note that this third letter of instruction once again included fax markings (time stamp) – there is no time difference between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Singapore). All together I had purchased a total of 200,000 Amaru, Inc. shares through these bankers. | By late January 2006, I had not seen or heard anything in the news about the NASDAQ listing and so, out of curiosity, I called the defendant to ask him what was going on? The defendant replied that he did not know and assured me that he would make it a point to call Colin Binny to find out. A week or so later, I called the defendant to follow up, and he told me that he had talked to Colin Binny and learned that he had changed his mind and was now applying for US AMEX (American Stock Exchange) listing instead. I did not make a fuss about it as I knew the AMEX was just as credible as the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. | By mid-2006 to early 2007, I had complained so incessantly to PB1 and the defendant about the steady and relentless decline in Amaru, Inc.’s stock price, and how none of the representations were materializing, that they had become distant and indifferent toward me. All my calls and e-mails to them were ignored, and as such, PB2 was my only contact left at the bank. News and other updates from the bankers to all their other clients had also dried up. It was some months later that I then started giving some thought to filing a formal complaint with the head of the bank in Singapore. | Months flew by, and on January 19, 2007, a company news release reported that Amaru, Inc. had only achieved a lowly OTC BB (Over the Counter – Bulletin Board) Exchange listing! I was shocked and immediately called PB2 to ask her what was going on and whether I should then just cut my losses and sell my Amaru, Inc. stock? She told me to hang on as good news was forthcoming and that the stock would go right back up. She then proceeded to tell me that I was not able to sell my Amaru, Inc. stock anyway because it was RESTRICTED and that I had to wait for the TWO-YEAR stock restriction to be lifted before I could sell it! NEVER FROM THE VERY BEGINNING WAS I INFORMED ABOUT THIS TWO-YEAR STOCK RESTRICTION! | By the second half of 2007, I had mentioned to my relative that I was thinking of filing a formal complaint with the bank. Word of this had reached the bankers, and at first, PB1 asked my relative for my phone number in Canada as she had wanted to have a word with me. However, I never heard from either of the bankers. I then contacted my relative who told me that the bank’s lawyers had advised both PB1 and the defendant not to talk to me at all. It was from then on that I began drafting my formal letter of complaint to the bank. However, my relative suggested that I hold off submitting anything until he had a chance to talk to the bankers to get a clear picture from them as to what was happening regarding this stock they had so strongly recommended to all of us. | It took me much longer than expected to draft my letter of complaint as I had to recall all the relevant details and timeline of events as accurately as possible. Unfortunately, things dragged out for about three years; much longer than I had planned. However, in March 2010 I finally e-mailed my formal complaint to Mr. R. Feser, the then head of Credit Agricole (Suisse) SA – Singapore, which was then sent to the bank’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland. | Within an hour or so of submitting my formal letter of complaint, I then received an e-mail from my relative and was told that PB1 had called to inform him about my formal complaint to the bank (Whatever happened to banking secrecy?). He then mentioned that both the defendant and PB1 had been called into Mr. R. Feser’s office to give their explanation and that the defendant was subsequently instructed to write up an incident report which was also forwarded to the bank’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland. | Some weeks later, I received a reply letter from the bank’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland where they denied that the bank or bankers had any involvement in the Amaru, Inc. stock offering to me. They also insisted that I had purchased the Amaru, Inc. stock on my own, that there was never a mandate for the bankers to offer and sell Amaru, Inc. stock to customers of the bank, and that they had never received any commissions from my purchase of the stock. (If the bank never received any commissions, then who did?) What shocked me the most, however, was how they mentioned that I had studied Economics at the at the University of Southern California and had received an MBA from Harvard University. They then further mentioned that I was a savvy, experienced, and knowledgeable stock investor, had extensive dotcom stock trading experience and that I had a penchant for high-risk investments (I am very curious as to what they based all this on?). And, because of these reasons, the bank dismissed my complaint. | (If I was such a savvy investor, why would I purchase this stock on my own through the bank when firstly, it would have been frustratingly inconvenient because of the different time zones and bank hours of operation versus the US stock market hours. Secondly, why would I use the bank to buy and sell large quantities of shares when the bank’s fees and commissions are at least ten to twenty times that of a US broker?) | After I had discovered that the defendant lied about me in his incident report to the bank, I was more determined than ever to fight this case. I had even replied to the bank’s letter and demonstrated to them that the defendant had lied about my education and investment backgrounds, but they were adamant in maintaining their position, “REGARDLESS!” Meaning, they acknowledged, accepted, and condoned the defendant’s lies to them. | I commenced my lawsuit against the bank and defendant in February 2011 but subsequently withdrew naming the bank as a defendant shortly after as they were protected under Swiss jurisdiction laws. The defense lawyers then immediately filed a stay application trying to prevent my lawsuit from proceeding in Singapore, to make the costs as prohibitive and the logistics as inconvenient for me as possible. The defendant had claimed that under the terms and conditions of the account opening application form I had signed with the bank, that he was entitled to benefit from Swiss Law even though he was a Singapore Citizen, resided in and was employed in Singapore. And, to make it appear as though the incident took place in Geneva, Switzerland (for jurisdiction reasons), the defendant had even gone as far as to claim that my first letter of instruction was personally faxed by me directly to the bank’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland. The defendant further claimed that Geneva, Switzerland was where the instructions were received, processed, and carried out, and therefore, Singapore was not the appropriate forum for the legal proceedings and trial to take place. (These senseless claims were made although my account was opened and was at all times maintained at the bank’s Singapore branch only.) | In brief, the Singapore Courts did not believe the defendant’s story and quickly dismissed their stay application. The defense subsequently appealed the decision and even threw in an anti-suit injunction into the mix, but their appeal was just as quickly dismissed, and their anti-suit injunction rejected. Incidentally, the anti-suit injunction was filed to prevent me from later using the same lawsuit against the bank in Geneva, Switzerland, should I have succeeded in my lawsuit against the defendant in Singapore. The trial took place in April 2016, lasted for two weeks, and was then adjourned to August 2016 to facilitate the Swiss Law Experts giving their legal opinions as to whether Swiss law applied to this case. | The Bankers’ Version of Events – The Lies and Inconsistencies: | 1) The defendant, PB1, and PB2 ALL denied that there was ever a meeting at the bank on the morning of March 4, 2005. | The bankers claimed that there was never any meeting between them and myself on the morning of March 4, 2005, (supposedly) because PB1 and the defendant had already left the office by 10.30am and had stopped off to buy fruits for a client they were meeting at around noon. The defendant had only produced into evidence a car park stub which indicated that they (or someone) had entered a parking garage located in the city at 11.58am. | I recall that the meeting on March 4, 2005, started at approximately 10.30am, and likely a little earlier since I always make it a habit of showing up 10-15 minutes early for my meetings. It lasted for about 1 hour – about 30 minutes for the sales pitch, 10-15 minutes for chitchat on personal matters, and about 5 minutes for PB2 to draft the letter of instruction for me to sign. Incidentally, the defense lawyer tried to discredit me by insisting that 50 minutes was NOT ABOUT 1 hour! (Seriously?!) | (It should be noted that if the bankers had not stopped off to buy fruits from between 10.30-11.30am, then there would have been plenty of time for the meeting in PB1’s office, and to make it to the parking garage in the city at 11.58am. Incidentally, there were NO receipts for the purchase of fruits entered into evidence, plus there was NO proof that the parking stub even belonged to the defendant.) | 2) The defendant, PB1, and PB2 ALL denied that any representations regarding Amaru, Inc. were ever made to me at all. | The defense claimed that there were never any representations made to me regarding Amaru, Inc. and that none of the bankers had spoken to me before March 23, 2005, the date of the second letter of instruction to purchase Amaru, Inc. stock. Unfortunately, these specific representations were a matter of “he said, she said,” and given the lack of black and white documented evidence, were difficult to prove. The defense further claimed that I had purchased the Amaru, Inc. stock on my own after my relative had discussed its details with me. THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE. | (It is now clear why the defendant had not allowed me to take home the printed articles about Amaru, Inc. that he had shown to me at the meeting. He had also insisted that we only communicate using personal e-mail and would always have me call them back on their cell phones when discussing anything to do with Amaru, Inc; presumably, because phone calls to and from the bank are routinely recorded.) |
This review (Crédit Agricole Group) was originally published at Skeptic Files.
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