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ASB employee steals millions from 22 customers

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  • ASB employee steals millions from 22 customers

    ASB employee steals millions from 22 customers

    NBR staff | Monday August 31 2009 - 09:34pm
    ASB has detected a serious case of fraud by an employee providing investment advice to customers involving several million dollars.

    The offending involves 22 customers, and the Bank has identified those concerned.
    The bank has already made restitution to customers where irregularities have been confirmed, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that no customer is adversely affected.

    The employee, who worked for the Bank for more than 10 years, has been dismissed, and is now under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

    The fraud was elaborate and involved the investment adviser making fictitious investments on behalf of customers.

    The dismissed employee acted alone in committing the fraud.

    As the Serious Fraud Office has yet to complete its investigations, the Bank will be making no further comment until its inquiries are completed.
    The National Business Review Online is New Zealand's authority in breaking business news and analysis.
    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx

  • #2
    In tough times.....seemingly 'normal' people can end up taking extraordinary risks, knowing it's more than likely going to end in tears and a jail sentence.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by donna View Post
      In tough times.....seemingly 'normal' people can end up taking extraordinary risks, knowing it's more than likely going to end in tears and a jail sentence.
      But MILLIONS???

      I only need a few thousand. Although I would like more


      • #4
        Margheritas are very expensive in Rio de janeiro!
        You can find me at: Energise Web Design


        • #5
          Originally posted by donna View Post
          In tough times.....seemingly 'normal' people can end up taking extraordinary risks, knowing it's more than likely going to end in tears and a jail sentence.
          But the irony is NZ has just been through its strongest economic period since the 1950s wool boom! Fraudsters operate good times or bad.


          • #6
            Originally posted by drelly View Post
            Margheritas are very expensive in Rio de janeiro!
            Pina Colada's are cheap in Langkawi


            • #7
              Bank: Staffer took cash for $3.5m home

              Bank: Staffer took cash for $3.5m home

              4:00AM Sunday Sep 06, 2009
              By David Fisher
              The ASB has filed a lawsuit against former employee Stephen Versalko. Photos / Glenn Jeffrey, supplied

              Related links:

              A former ASB Bank investment adviser now under Serious Fraud Office investigation was involved in a $3.5 million luxury property buy-up just before he was fired.
              The bank is claiming the properties were bought with its money, and has filed a lawsuit against its former staff member, who the Herald on Sunday has identified as Remuera banker Stephen Gerard Versalko.
              The bank announced last week it had called in the SFO after firing an employee for alleged fraud involving "several millions of dollars".
              It said the staff member was an "investment adviser" who had made fictitious investments on behalf of 22 wealthy customers. The bank said customers who had lost money had been repaid.
              Versalko's wife Megan, a teacher, refused to speak about the case this week and said her husband also had no interest in talking.
              She said: "No charges have been laid so I don't believe I need to be speaking to you."
              Property records confirm the mortgage-free purchases of the family's new $1.7m Remuera mansion and $1.8m beachfront holiday house on the Coromandel Peninsula in the past three months.

              Banking insiders estimate Versalko would have been earning about $150,000 as an investment adviser, with possible bonuses of up to $30,000.
              Property records show a company owned by Versalko and his wife the Versalko Trust Company Limited bought his family's Remuera home in May. The sale price is listed as $1.7m although it was sold by a property development company going into liquidation which claimed it still needed work completed.
              Those involved in negotiations for the beachfront home on the Coromandel say Versalko handled negotiations and had agreed to pay $1.8m.
              According to some involved in the deal, settlement was due at the end of this year but was brought forward to August. The deal was completed about the time the SFO was alerted by the bank on August 25.
              Property records show the sale went through Fides Limited, a company registered to Megan Versalko. Fides is Latin for loyalty.
              Land Information New Zealand records show neither property has a mortgage. But records for both also show the ASB is already trying to get its money back.
              The Remuera home, in Seaview Rd, and the Whangapoua beachfront home have had caveats filed against them by legal firm Bell Gully, acting for ASB Bank.
              The documents state the bank believes it has a right to the properties because they were purchased with "funds beneficially belonging to...ASB Bank Ltd".
              The bank has also filed a High Court claim against Versalko, which had its first hearing last Monday.
              The Versalko family had previously holidayed at another Whangapoua home owned by Fides Limited. The Lockwood-style home was in a subdivision one street back from the beach. It sold in April for $530,000.
              Locals say the Versalko family they have two sons at university and a daughter at high school visited about four times a year, with a longer stay over Christmas.
              Whitianga estate agent Mike Harper and Remuera estate agent Roger Stringfield worked together to secure the beachfront home for the Versalko family. Both say they dealt with Stephen Versalko.
              Harper said the beachfront house was sold to Versalko in March with settlement planned for November or December. The settlement date had been brought back to August.
              Stringfield believed the long settlement period was to allow the modest Lockwood holiday home to sell and to raise money to finalise the beachfront deal.
              "I thought he needed to borrow a whole lot of money to buy that. I got the impression he would have a big mortgage on the property and be working hard to pay it."
              He said the Versalko family were "such nice people". Versalko himself was "a heck of nice guy", "straight-forward and nice to deal with".
              Former neighbour William Stewart, who also has a holiday home there, said the shift to the beachfront had happened in just the past few weeks. Told of the recent property deals, Stewart exclaimed: "Gee, he's won Lotto!"
              On Versalko, he said: "He seemed to me to be a bit snobbish and quite stand-offish. [Like] he thought he was a different class. With that sort of money, he probably was."
              Versalko appears to have other property and business interests, although family members say he acted only as a signatory on trust documents. He is listed as being a shareholder in a supermarket on Auckland's North Shore, and also as part-owning a house in North Shore's Chatswood.
              While property documents show he is one of the listed owners, brother-in-law David West said Versalko's role was only a matter of paperwork, rather than actual financial involvement. He confirmed mortgages were with the ASB but through different branches and no connection to Versalko.
              ASB website information - since removed - shows Versalko's role was to offer investment advice for customers at branches in a string of Auckland's wealthier areas. He worked across Remuera, the waterfront eastern suburbs and into Newmarket.
              However, shortly before he was fired it appears his job changed. His company cellphone carried the message "I have moved to another position in the bank, manager private bank". It has since been erased.
              The bank boasted Versalko had been an "associate member of the NZ Institute of Financial Advisers" since 1997 and before working for the bank had "worked in Treasury for several large New Zealand institutions for over 23 years". The bank stated: "He is renowned for his customer service."
              SFO acting director Gib Beattie said the investigation would aim to pinpoint when the alleged offending started.
              "It means going back and looking at how the alleged offending was perpetrated and if further funds were stolen to cover up funds that were initially stolen."
              He said it appeared at this stage only one person was involved.
              Beattie said it was difficult to estimate the exact value of the alleged fraud but said: "It is large, and it is several millions of dollars."
              He said the SFO always examined how money obtained by fraud had been used. The information often shaped a court's view of an offender should a prosecution be taken.
              Beattie refused to comment on whether Versalko had been interviewed.
              Even though the SFO probe is examining the extent of the alleged fraud, ASB Bank spokeswoman Debby Bell insisted the case was isolated and only involved a single individual.
              "This is not an ASB-wide issue. It is a one-off incident involving a single person who no longer works for the bank."
              Asked to offer assurances the bank's systems were safe, Bell said: "We encourage any customer who does have concerns to come into a branch, where they can be provided with updated statements relating to the transactions and balances for their accounts."
              Bell refused to comment further in case it caused problems for the SFO investigation.
              "It is in everyone's best interests for this investigation to be carried out and concluded as rapidly and cleanly as possible."
              * Are you one of Stephen Versalko's former clients?
              Email David Fisher

              * The Versalko file
              What the bank says:
              An "investment adviser" who worked at the bank for more than 10 years has been fired. ASB Bank says he was sacked for fraud.
              The bank claims 22 of its customers had funds taken for "fictitious investments" worth millions of dollars.
              What the records show:
              Versalko bought $3.5m in property in the past four months.
              ASB has gained legal orders preventing Versalko from selling his $1.7m Remuera home and $1.8m Coromandel Peninsula beach house.
              The legal orders carry ASB's claim the properties were bought with "funds ... belonging to ... ASB Bank Ltd".
              What happens next:
              Papers have been filed by ASB against Versalko in the High Court.
              The SFO is carrying out an investigation to probe the extent of the alleged fraud.
              Latest breaking news articles, photos, video, blogs, reviews, analysis, opinion and reader comment from New Zealand and around the World - NZ Herald
              "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx