Jury rejects defendant’s claim he was victim of scam
Former Royal Bank of Canada employee Erick Michael Adam was remanded in custody on Monday after a jury found him guilty of stealing property to a value of US$29,987.33 and falsifying a client’s signature on documents in order to gain access to the money.
Defence attorney John Furniss asked for bail pending a social inquiry report. He told Justice Charles Quin that Adam, 28, had answered his bail on every occasion. He said Adam has ties to the community and was not a flight risk.
Senior Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees advised that since Adam had been bailed for the charges before the Grand Court, he had four convictions in Summary Court, including using an ICT network to annoy and harass, plus possession and consumption of ganja. He has a further three charges outstanding, including one for failing to surrender, she noted. The fact that his offences at the bank were a breach of trust meant that a custodial sentence would be almost inevitable, Ms Lees said.
Mr. Furniss replied that Adam could have left Cayman a long time ago if he had wanted to, but this was his home.
Justice Quin said that in light of the previous convictions and the jury’s decision, he was minded to remand Adam in custody. He set sentencing for Thursday, 7 June.
Trial began last week Monday and the Crown called 10 witnesses, most of whom worked at the bank. They described procedures in general and their recollection of what happened in September 2009, when the offences occurred. Adam gave evidence, although he was not obliged to do so, but did not call any witnesses.
The offences related to a long term deposit made in 1982.
Adam told the court he had worked as a personal financial services representative since 2007. In this case, he said he was the victim of a scam.
He agreed he had completed forms that led to a bank draft being prepared and monies being handed to a woman who presented herself as the daughter of the term deposit holder. Eleven days later, the man who had made the original deposit attended the bank; after being told his account had been closed, the man asked that inquiries be made into possible fraud.
Adam agreed he had made two mistakes in the procedure that should have been followed when he dealt with the woman. He did not make a photocopy of the driver’s licence she presented as identification. Then he did not have a term deposit letter of instruction checked by his personal supervisor.
He agreed that he did not have authority to negotiate cheques or cash transactions of more than $10,000 and he was not to release a term deposit without authority. He agreed he did sign the term deposit letter of instruction on behalf of the bank, but he denied signing a name purported to be the customer’s. The letter of instruction was processed by the appropriate departments.
Various employees confirmed that, when the holder of the long term deposit did not have an account at the bank, the correct procedure would have been to open an account or give the customer a bank draft for him to deposit in his own bank or wire transfer the money to his account elsewhere. Royal Bank of Canada discouraged customers from leaving the bank with large sums of cash.
Cross-examined on this point by Ms Lees, Adam said he could only do what customers told him to do with their cash.
He told the court he got the bank draft and took it to the customer to get it signed. Then he stood in line to get the draft cashed. He said the teller got permission to give him $16,400 and US$9,980.93. He said he took the cash back to his office, counted it and gave it to the customer.
According to procedure, he should have given the draft to the customer to cash and he should not have had money in his office.
None of the bank employees who gave evidence said they ever saw the customer or the man who had accompanied her, according to Adam’s account. The closed circuit television camera in the bank was not working that day.
Ms Lees presented sworn statements from the holder of the term deposit and his daughter. She denied withdrawing the money and said she had never been to the Cayman Islands. The daughter further stated that she had been using her married name for the last 21 years.
In his instructions to the jury, Justice Quin said the Crown’s case was that no customer ever came in to the bank to see Adam regarding this term deposit and he had invented the woman and her companion after seeing her name as a beneficiary in the original file. The woman was listed by her maiden name. The bank documents were signed with the woman’s first name and maiden name and the Crown said this was because Adam didn’t know her married name.
Justice Quin also summarised the evidence of Frank Norwitch, who as a handwriting expert was entitled to express opinion. However, jurors did not have to accept it. Either way, it pertained to only a small part of the case.