JOHANNESBURG - First National Bank is adamant that it is not liable for any customer losses after a heist last year.
The bank says it has paid out for some losses as a gesture of goodwill.
It further stated that customers had signed a document indemnifying it from loss or damage, however some customers say the bank has to take responsibility.
This has resulted in a stand-off between FNB and its customers, with the bank saying it is in the right.
“As FNB we are also victims of crime and we do understand that although we have made offers to customers, we are not legally obliged to make any of these offers,” said FNB Points of Presence Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lee-Anne Van Zyl.
“We still wanted to do it in the best interest of the customer relationships we’ve had and hence made goodwill settlements offers.”
The bank says it will make settlement offers by assessing each claim but while some customers have accepted offers, others want more.
Nicole Petyt, an FNB customer, says that the bank should admit that they are liable for the loss of customers’ assets and take responsibility for the lack of tight security.
“You can’t replace it, you can’t look at it and enjoy it ever again ever, it can’t be replaced,” said Petyt.
“The next best thing is to actually be treated like human beings by FNB and for them to say to us ‘We are actually liable for this, there was not enough security.”
Some customers say the settlement offer from FNB is an insult, but the bank says it understands that it can’t replace the sentimental value of some of the stolen items.
“As FNB we realise that there are items that are truly priceless for customers, for example the heirlooms and that you were referring to and we could never compensate a customer for that and as FNB we truly apologise for this particular loss, said Van Zyl.
“The best we could do, in a transparent process, is offer a customer a settlement offer in view of the loss they have experienced.”
Kelly Fraser, a spokesperson of the FNB heist victims, says the bank can still do more.
“There’s a lot of items in those boxes that you can’t put a price to and yes I agree with FNB on that one point that yes they can’t repay that,” Fraser said.
“They can repay it by treating the victims of this heist a little bit better that they have. But what wasn’t sentimental is financially valuable and that they can make a real effort to give people back what they have lost.”
FNB says the items it has recovered after the heist will be returned to customers but those who have accepted offers will need to pay the bank, in proportion, to what they claimed.