Bank denies coercing customer
Amercian Savings Bank says a 91-year-old client willingly loaned cash to a bank worker
American Savings Bank acknowledged in court documents filed yesterday that a fired operations supervisor improperly borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from a 91-year-old customer, but denied it tried to cover up what happened.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by 91-year-old Ada Lim and her son William, the bank said Ada Lim told its representatives in writing that she voluntarily loaned money to Marilyn De Motta, a former Hawaii Kai branch operations supervisor, and that Lim had no complaints about what happened.
The bank also said Lim re-signed the loan documents in the presence of a notary and Lim's daughter Jennifer Huppert. The documents said William Lim was present part of the time, when Mrs. Lim re-signed the documents.
De Motta was fired because she violated the bank's policy by borrowing from a customer, according to the court document.
The bank said De Motta repaid "most, if not all" of the money.
In the documents, the bank indicated it may seek arbitration to settle parts of the lawsuit and said any losses suffered by the Lims were the result of actions by other parties and not because of anything the bank did or did not do.
"Their written response is not a legal answer, it is a press release," said Lim's attorney, Lyle Hosoda, referring to a four paragraph summary at the beginning of the bank's answer that do not address specific allegations in the lawsuit.
"I cannot understand the unwillingness of the bank to accept responsibility for its actions," he said.
In a separate filing, the bank also denied allegations in a lawsuit by Bert Corniel, former vice president of security, that the bank discouraged him from reporting the Lim case accurately to federal regulators.
The bank said Corniel is a disgruntled former employee who was passed over for a promotion and that bank policy encourages employees to report suspected violations of law.
Lim's lawsuit, filed on Aug. 2, alleges that De Motta and Lim's daughter Phyllis Huppert improperly took $622,500 from Lim's bank account in 2004. Some of money was deposited into the bank accounts of De Motta and her father and was allegedly used to buy a condominium in Waipahu.
The lawsuit also alleges that De Motta improperly persuaded Lim to sign $181,000 in checks to her daughter Phyllis Huppert, including a $60,000 check that was allegedly written by DeMotta.
Huppert and De Motta are also named in the lawsuit.
The bank said that when Lim's former accountant twice told the manager of the Hawaii Kai branch about concerns that Mrs. Lim's money was being improperly handled, that the manager verbally warned De Motta not to give financial advice to Lim.
But the bank denies that it did not investigate De Motta or prevent further improper use of Lim's accounts.
The bank said it launched an investigation into De Motta in January 2005.
In February, the bank said representatives from the Human Resources Department and a notary public took a small gift basket with cookies, mochi crunch and a bouquet of spring flowers to Mrs. Lim. The purpose of the visit was to determine whether written statements by De Motta were accurate.
The gifts were taken because one of the bank's representatives believed it was proper etiquette to bring something when visiting Mrs. Lim in her home, not because of a "coverup," the bank said.
When Mrs. Lim confirmed the documents were genuine, they asked her to re-sign the documents in the presence of the notary.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
» American Savings Bank stated in court documents that it fired an operations supervisor who violated bank policy by borrowing money from a customer. A headline in yesterday's morning edition incorrectly said the bank acknowledged wrongdoing on its part.