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Hello.  I've been asked to get involved in a case, requiring my forensic accounting skills.  Which is fine by me.  The case is in the very early stages / lawyers have only just been appointed.  The case involves a joint personal current account, in two holders' names, husband and wife.  The husband was employed in a senior capacity by one of the High Street banks.  The account was with the same bank, and held a considerable balance.  That considerable amount had been borrowed by the wife.  Without knowing it (nor without consenting or signing any documents), her name was removed from the account.  The husband then withdrew all the cash and did a runner from the relationship.  But, he still works for the bank.

Does anyone know exactly what the rules are, to remove a name from an account?  Surely, if the wife never consented in anyway to her name being removed, this can only be a case of fraud?  Lawyers will of course be handling this side of the case.  In the meantime, any advice and opinions would be appreciated.   


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18th Apr 2012 18:40

Maybe, maybe not

As a joint holder of the account the husband would ordinarily be entitled to draw from the account - even up to the total amount available. That appears to be what he has, in effect, done.

What you are suggesting is, in effect, that he made the withdrawal dishonestly with the intention of making a gain for himself and causing a loss to the wife. But I think I would struggle to say that his withdrawal of the money fell within the definition of theft or fraud in English law (partly because he was entitled to draw the money).

If, however, the husband had gone into the bank and (falsely) informed them that his wife consented to the removal of her name from the account then that could be fraud by false representation, contrary to ss1 & 2 Fraud Act 2006.  Thinking about it further, if as a bank employee he was able to remove her name from the account and did so, it could be said that this involved an implied representation to the bank that she had consented to that - and that also could amount to fraud by false representation (or fraud by abuse of position contrary to ss1 & 4 Fraud Act 2006 on the basis that he would be expected not to act against the interests of a customer of the bank - his wife).

So I am saying that paradoxically the criminal offence, if any, would consist of removing her name from the account, rather than removing the money from the account (although the court would recognise that the effect of removing her name would be to cause her to lose her entitlement to withdraw the money herself).


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