Thursday, December 3, 2020

Clients accuse FNBB of unlawful conduct

First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) is being accused of unlawful client legal fees deductions without following procedure of taxation from the Registrar of the High Court.

Sunday Standard is in possession of documents of some clients who have complained to the Office of the adjudicator, Bank of Botswana and Botswana Banking Ombudsman about some deductions without their consent.

FNBB law firm, Osei-Ofei Swabi and Co, acknowledged receipt of the complainant letter stamped 22 January 2020.

Sources closer to this development say it’s happening not only with FNNB but other banks are also doing the same because clients are actually not aware that money should be taxed before court.

Sunday Standard is in possession of a letter from the recipient law firm admitting that there was an error but assured the clients that the matter is being normalized.

“Reference is made to the above matter particularly to your letter dated 16 January 2020 which we received on even date. We apologies for late reply, rest assured that it is not out of disrespect, in fact we are still taking instructions from clients,” reads part of the letter from Wellington attorneys.

The law firm through Wellington attorneys, states that as a result and in the event that the allegations are true, “kindly provide us with a breakdown of your costs to enable us to take instructions and if any dispute arises same to be taxed.”

Sunday standard is aware of one of the key complainants who had approached them to seek clarity on how the bank has deducted close to P1 million as legal fees without their consent

The client wrote letters to the Banking Adjudicator of Botswana, Botswana Banking Ombudsman and finally to Bank of Botswana (BoB) stating that the money was unlawfully debited on different accounts were debited as legal fees.

“Such amounts were not debited as legal fees which we were never furnished with invoices nor does a taxed bill of cost which would only become due and payable in the presence of taxed bill of costs by the registrar and master of the High court,  ’’read part of letter to BoB

On the 9th September, the client further threatened the banking adjudicator of Botswana that if they don’t act accordingly on FNNB unlawful conduct then the best tool is to approach Bank of Botswana for redress.

“To date, I think FNB has demonstrated that they have no interest in resolving this matter. Given that FNBB has been aware of this complain since 24th August 2020 and several communications has been passed through your office to FNBB. Its now 36 days since this matter has been brought to FNNB attention. I am pretty sure that your office has also allowed FNBB enough time to respond’’ read part of the letter

On 28th September 2020 (almost nine months old of the matter) the clients wrote to Bank of Botswana stating that FNBB has unlawfully deducted some money without their consent and has not even responded to their complain within the stipulated 15 days. The clients further states that even the Banking adjudicator of Botswana has not responded to their concern.

In a letter dated 15th August 2020, Botswana Banking Ombudsman, Dr Gabriel Maotwanyane replied client and said the bank has provided them with a report on the clients complain and that they acknowledge the concern regarding the legal fees, which have been paid without undertaking the taxation process before the registrar of the High Court

 “The banking attorney has been instructed by the bank to start the taxation process of which the outcome will be communicated to all parties involved’’ Dr Gabriel Maotwanyane

The main worry of the client was that FNBB has taken too long to respond to his complain despite their power in deducting money from his/or her account especially money without being taxed. 

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The Telegraph December 2

Digital edition of The Telegraph, December 2, 2020.