Beige Bank case: Defense witness justifies projects undertaken to transition BCSL to Beige Bank

The fourth defense witness in the case where Michael Nyinaku, the founder of the defunct Beige Bank, has been charged, has justified the expansion of projects rolled out leading to the transition of Beige Capital Savings and Loans (BCSL) to become Beige Bank.

The witness, Okbell Majdoub, the former Head of Service Quality of The Beige Group, says the bank undertook projects like refurbishments of all the previously existing branches to reflect the institution’s newly acquired status and the construction of completely new offices.

Nyinaku, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the defunct bank, has been accused of allegedly siphoning customers’ funds and has been charged with stealing GHS2.1 billion of depositors’ money from the bank.

He has pleaded not guilty to 43 charges, including stealing, fraudulent breach of trust, and money laundering, and has been granted bail.

State prosecutors, led by Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, had suggested to the witness that there was no evidence in the cour
t to show a requisition form, purchase order, or service order form originating from the bank.

However, the witness, while pointing to a portion of her witness statement which had been adopted, said the bank undertook a lot of branch expansion across the country.

“As part of preparations towards the transition of BCSL into universal banking, the bank undertook a lot of branch expansion projects all over the country,” the witness, who was facing cross-examination from the prosecution, insisted.

Okbell Majdoub, the former Head of Service Quality, also told the court that one would not have the service order with the Service Quality Department because it was supposed to be a request from Beige Bank to the Chief Executive Officer.

While disagreeing again with the prosecution’s suggestion that she had no records to show to the court because such services were not rendered to Beige Bank by Beige Group, the witness pointed to Exhibit 82H to buttress her point.

“Here we have Beige Capital Bank, and this is a pic
ture that describes Beige Capital Bank transitioning the branch from Savings and Loans to a universal bank.

“We changed the look and feel of Alucobonds, so we needed a new architectural structure; this is the first we did. I would take you through a second branch, which we called the Osu Branch,” the witness stated.

She also said, “I disagree that nothing was done at the Osu branch, which was a premium branch. Here, before we start anything to do with work, this is approved by a team, so we pick up an architectural drawing that gives us an impression of the branch and how the service flow would operate in the branch.”

In relation to that work, she said, “There is always a process we go through, which starts with the first requisition from Beige Bank to the CEO, informing them how they want a branch and where they want the branch. Based on that, a structure is put together by Babbel and handed over to the project team.

“The project team comprises us, the service team, which looks out for the fit-out of a b
ranch, and these, I would explain, are funded by Beige Group for Beige Bank. These items include the ceilings lamination with the branch, which is light, flooring surfaces, teller cubicles which are clad either in wood or across with brick tiles,” the witness stated.

For security measures, she said, “All teller cubicles are measured at a distance to keep the teller away for security measures.

“To ensure standardization of the look across all Beige Banks, the back of the tellers is kept in the color beige with a standard colour which was painted beige. The signage, which was supposed to be a facial signage, was always fixed behind the tellers,” she explained.

In addition, “To ensure our branches are kept in tidy order, the front of our tellers was always carpeted, and you can see the image of the Osu branch.”

The fourth defense witness also said, “In order to keep consistency again for all our branches, the chairs are purchased by the Procurement Department in bulk and placed in front of our tellers, and e
ach branch has a minimum of eight single tap chairs in front of the tellers.

“As part of service requisitions from the BOG, every branch was supposed to have a minimum of two client service advisors. As part of consumer requisite reporting, hence you would see two tables and chairs in front of the Client Service Officer,” the defense witness explained.

“We were also tasked by the bank to ensure at all times for the consumer reporting section of the BOG to have in place at the teller point feedback boxes and all other third-party services offered by the bank, and these are in place per the picture we have here.

“Prior to all these fit-outs of a branch from Beige Group to Beige Bank, there was a memo raised to the office of the CEO with a list of items to be done to be used for the interior fit-out and the fittings of the branch,” she stated.

In order to follow through with the work, there is a service order that is done for every vendor that has to work, and that is done and filed by the finance department
of Beige Group.

She said there are several other branches which were done by Beige Group for Beige Bank, which includes the Airport West Branch, and that is Exhibit 83G.

“In 2017, evolving from Beige Capital Savings and Loans to Beige Bank, the Airport West Branch was also allocated as a premium branch, which was a requisite from Beige Bank to the CEO of Beige Group to have more premium branches to credit their new status as a bank, and hence Beige Group acquired a bigger space and a more premium place for them,” she stated.

Sequel to the process from the bank, “Service quality was tasked to create a first-class branch for Beige Bank.

“This was a task from Beige Group to Beige Bank, and evidence proves an empty shell of a building that had to be put together to serve the bank not just operational services but to be able to host a few other departments that were supposed to serve the bank.

“As part of the team to serve from Beige Group to Beige Bank, we had to undergo a few service checks with the BOG ope
rational team, projects team from Beige Group, Operations team from Beige Bank, and a projecting property team to ensure the authenticity of a branch in that location,” the DW4 stated.

The defense witness added that this was done and “was approved by the team, and hence the project took a team of about three months to put together the branch, which hosted the various units of the bank because it served as their head office.”

“There is evidence of work that was carried out, which is evidenced in the works of the branch, which is in existence today. We can see the building and works included having themes and themes included the interior and exterior look of the branch.

“Because the business was seated in a highly residential area, we picked a theme for the exterior of the branch, and this was done from Beige Group to Beige Bank. One of the exterior looks, which is a large space, was a large coal pot with a big saucepan, and the other was a mortar and a pestle, and a fufu pot and a spoon, so we had to go int
o the bush to get wood to mold that picture you see there,” she explained.

Source: Ghana Web