CBA to pursue fraud banker

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

THE COMMONWEALTH Bank has issued a statement to reassure its customers that their money is safe, after a former South Tweed Heads bank manager was found guilty of fraud in the Lismore District Court on Monday.

Former bank manager Graham Patrick Higgins, 46, of Banora Point, was found guilty of having defrauded an elderly customer of $78,303 in 2001.

At the time, Mr Higgins was the manager of the Tweed City Commonwealth Bank.

The court heard that bed-ridden nursing home resident Doreen Loder, now deceased, had entrusted Higgins with a cheque for $78,303 in 2001.

This money was to be invested in a fixed-term deposit account.

Higgins instead split the cheque into eight bank cheques for $8600 each.

He then authorised those cheques to be cashed in, the court was told during the threeweek hearing.

Shortly after these cheques were cashed in, the court heard that money had found its way into Higgins' brother's bank account.

Cheques were also issued to Higgins' stock- broker, builder and his computer company.

Higgins was refused bail following the guilty verdict by a jury and is due to reappear in court on April 26 for sentencing.

The manager of media and issues management for the Commonwealth Bank, Bryan Fitzgerald, yesterday said the bank was "disappointed" in any instances of fraud at their branches.

However, Mr Fitzgerald went to great lengths to point out that no other customers' funds were at risk.

"The bank always reviews its security procedures when an incident of fraud takes place," Mr Fitzgerald said. yesterday.

"Action has been taken to close any loopholes that might exist," he said.

Mr Fitzgerald confirmed that the bank would now pursue Higgins to recoup the missing money.

"We will be taking court action shortly to seek the recovery of the full amount from Mr Higgins," Mr Fitzgerald said.

The bank had previously reached an out-ofcourt settlement with the executors of Mrs Loder's will and will be refunding the entire $78,303.08 plus interest.



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