Bank failed to set up account in a way that prevented brother using funds for gambling

Account mandates,
Natalia’s brother had a gambling problem. In 2017, the pair asked the bank to set up an account that he could access only with the agreement of Natalia or her sister. The bank opened a term deposit and made the brother the account owner and the two sisters the signatories, with a ‘two-to-sign’ rule. The brother deposited $120,000 in the account. In 2018, the brother transferred the funds to his own bank account and spent $25,000.
March 2024

When the bank realised he had accessed the account contrary to the signing instruction, it returned the remaining amount to the account. Natalia subsequently called several times to check that her brother could not access the account without her or her sister’s consent, and the bank confirmed this was so. The account was operated without incident until December 2022 when the brother removed both sisters as signatories and withdrew all the money. When the sisters found out, they complained that he should not have been allowed to remove them as signatories.

Our investigation

The brother was vulnerable, and with his family, he had trusted the bank to set up an account in such a way that his finances would be protected. It was clear the bank had not met this requirement – despite repeatedly assuring Natalia her brother could not access the funds. The brother, as account owner, could change the signing rule or remove signatories at any time. Neither the sisters nor the brother had suffered any direct financial loss as a result. The money belonged to the brother, and he had used it as he wished. Natalia and her sister had, however, experienced a great deal of inconvenience. The bank’s failure to set up an account that protected their brother’s financial interests had caused turmoil in the family and insecurity about the brother's financial future.


We recommended $2,000 compensation. Natalia asked the bank for $5,000. The bank countered with $3,500, which Natalia accepted.

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