How to rob a bank?

Would you like to rob a bank and come off clear? Then you should be an ordinary middle manager in the West or hold one of the leading positions in a Russian bank. In this case your blame will bounce off you like water off a duck's back. But you had better hurry up, since the law is constantly changing and we have to rely upon human nonchalance.

There is a well-known story about rogue trader Jerome Kerviel at the French bank Société Générale who placed unauthorised trades that lost the company 5bn euros. The trader came up with a lucrative scheme to sue the former employer for the unfair expulsion.

Here is a recap of that incident. In January of 2008 the scandal broke when France’s largest bank lost 4,83bn euros due to the trader’s gambling on markets. According to The Times, Société Générale’s chairman Daniel Bouton depicted his trades as “massive fraud” and “terrorism”. In search of profit Mr. Kerviel contrived to evade the electric system for safety and falsify documents.

Nevertheless, the trader did not consider himself a rogue and argued that the bank itself was to blame for the losses, since the bank’s management had discovered his trading actions. Kerviel believed that if they had not intervened, he would have made a bundle and later received a premium for that.

Kerviel had quite a number of proponents and admirers in the West. Some of them even hailed him as France’s Robin Hood and condemned the bank’s management. Recipients from criticized the trader on the whole and particularly mentioned the trader’s ethics. According to them, it is possible to gamble honestly on markets without ruining a bank. Besides, a wise proverb is to remember here: do not bite more than you can chew. In other words, overloaded ship is sure to sink.

Are such stories likely to happen in Russia? They are. But there is a restriction here. “Abroad it is usually middle managers or their inferiors who steal (about 40 percent). Top managers pilfer very rarely (about ten percent). But in Russia it’s quite the other way about: ten percent of inferiors and 40 percent of top managers commit crimes,” Anatoly Evdokimov, the chief executive of the Association of International Cooperation of Non State Safety Structures (ANSB), said in his interview with

What is the reason for such a striking difference? The matter is that business abroad has already been established and top managers defend it, while in Russia there has been no new business classes within past 10-15 years. “We are now at an early stage of capitalism when a company or a bank is created to steal and disappear then,” Evdokimov said.

Who are the main claims of the Central Bank addressed to? As it turns out, they are mostly addressed to chairmen of the management committee and the board, to the bank’s top managers. “It is not that some inferior got access to the system and stole money electronically,” the ANSB chief executive underlined.

However, staff also steals in our country; we should not put the blame on owners alone. On the other hand, owners are to blame if employees steal money, for as often as not they economize on systems for safety and count on a miracle, Evdokimov said.

In the Sberbank (the Savings Bank of the Russian Federation) there was an incident of far simpler and more inelaborate swindle than the SocGen scandal. An employee wanted to be a network administrator to renders services connected with legal entities. In five days after his new appointment when he learnt an electronic key, he took advantage of the lacking control over his actions and transferred one million rubles to his own account. Later he reiterated his machinations and stole above five million rubles on the whole. In ten days he did not come to work. The resourceful employee is on the wanted list since that time.

How an ordinary employee contrived to organize such a machination? It is very simple. The director abolished daily accounts connected with legal entities and kept only monthly accounts. That is why they did not discover the theft at once. Besides, the bank mistreated the diskettes that helped to enter the system. The rogue used his opportunity and gained money easily.

So if a director is an honest and principled man who is not on the point of stealing, then he should be on alert and know whether his employees can do it instead of him. Indeed, sorting matches is of no interest. But when people deal with money, they are always tempted to lay hands on a good round sum. As they say, opportunity makes the thief.

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Author`s name Alex Naumov