Morale in a company must be pretty shot when a group of whistleblowers email their complaints to Crikey after getting no response from the board.

The company in question is the National Australia Bank and in the wake of the $360 million forex trading loss scandal which saw the board revamped, the CEO and chairman depart and the bank under the control of the regulators for more than a year, a whistleblowers website was established.

The thinking was that this would enable staff members to send in their complaints, real or imagined, or tip the board off to problems management might not necessarily want to bring to the board.

Imagine our surprise then when we received the following email overnight containing the text (the anonymous emailer claims) of the complaint from the NAB’s whistleblower’s website.

It seems to deal with the question of authorising cheques and other payments where there has been or a restructure is in place, leading to claims of a loss of business and embarrassments for clients.

Here’s the email:

This was recently sent to the NAB board confidential whistleblower email address. But without setting up a meeting as requested they are dithering. Looks like nothing has been learnt from the $400m losses a few years ago.

Dear NAB Board,

re: New structure in Authorisations team, Level 8 King St.

We feel that we have not been listened to over many months now.

We have raised serious system problems which is losing the NAB millions of dollars. We have raised these issues over two years.

Now we have a management structure that is putting more faith into these antiquated systems via Project Flintstone all for the sake of 15 jobs.

We provide a unique service to NAB customers with our role.

The information gathered by the project managers has been skewed to fit their agenda.

We have seen million dollar customers be slugged with a dishonour for the 1st time since the implementation of this project. And we saw a customer start moving his money away from the NAB. When we raised this we were told by one of the project managers that NAB was willing to wear these losses for the sake of the project.

The human element is the only way we have been able to detect serious breeches with our systems. Apparently NAB is willing to endure all of these losses too.

We feel that the project managers are more interested in getting a good score at their end of year appraisal rather than be accountable to our valid concerns or the shareholders.

We have found evidence of millions of dollars slipping through the cracks and that the entire Risk Management team (including the project managers) refer to the losses and the inability of systems to cope with the losses as ‘The Black Hole’.

We have obtained evidence to back up these claims.

We have booked radio air time to air these grievances on a leading Melbourne morning talk back show. A major metro newspaper is also interested.

But before any further action is taken we feel that the board has a right to know what is happening and we feel the board has a right to attempt to fix what is wrong.

We ask for

  • An immediate halt to the project
  • A skip level meeting with the ENTIRE Authorisations team together with at least one board member present and no project managers. An independent witness/mediator at the meeting. We have no issue with our FSU rep being at this meeting.
  • Meeting will need to be conducted in the morning when most staff are there
  • No job losses from the Authorisations teams starting now
  • An independent auditor to oversee the project to determine if it should go ahead
  • The raw data from the project to be shown to the Authorisations team
  • Extra training for the project managers – in particular, how to answer staff questions with answers as opposed to just responses. And how to uphold the NAB core principal of being open, upfront and honest. These qualities we have not seen.
  • Please schedule a meeting with all of us via out manager (name deleted).

Peter Fray

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