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Bob It Manager's Conviction For $21k Client Theft Upheld

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A former Bank of The Bahamas information technology (IT) manager yesterday failed to overturn his conviction for stealing $21,000 from customer accounts in early 2015.

The Court of Appeal, upholding the Magistrate's Court verdict against Renrick Bowe, sentenced the former bank executive to three years and five months in Fox Hill Prison with the sentence to start running as of yesterday.

He will have to serve an extra year if he fails to repay the stolen $21,000 by the time his sentence is completed, after the Court of Appeal reaffirmed his conviction on 13 counts of stealing by reason of employment, five counts of attempted stealing by employment and five counts of unauthorised use of a computer.

Appeal justice Roy Jones, in a unanimous Court of Appeal verdict, recalled how Mr Bowe had been employed to a position of trust by the BISX-listed bank in June 2013. "His responsibility included the support of all information technology applications at Bank of The Bahamas, and security to the bank's information technology systems including the Euro-Net system," the judgment said.

"The Euro-Net system stores Bank of The Bahamas' data and controls the ATM, Visa, pre-paid and gift cards issued by the bank. Between January and February 2015, someone made unauthorised ATM withdrawals from four Bank of The Bahamas' clients' savings accounts at different branches amounting to $21,000.

"The card numbers linked with the unauthorised ATM withdrawals were identical to two ATM test cards assigned to [Mr Bowe] in February 2014. After a series of meetings with the appellant, Bank of The Bahamas dismissed him from its employment.

"The appellant was later arrested and charged for the offences connected to the withdrawals from the ATM machines. The appellant pleaded not guilty to the charges and, after a trial, the magistrate found him guilty on all counts."

Mr Bowe's attorney, Miles Parker, first sought to attack the audit report detailing the findings of Bank of The Bahamas' internal probe of the theft, arguing that it was "hearsay and inadmissible evidence".

The report was produced by Renae Ijeoma, Mr Bowe's supervisor, and a Canadian consultant by running a query on the bank's Euro-Net platform to determine whether - and how - he had accessed the computer system outside his job description.

Finding that the audit report was admissible, the Court of Appeal said: "The information in the audit report is similar to that from a photograph or security camera footage. The audit report is simply a printout of the interconnection between the usernames and test cards associated with the suspicious transactions in a given timeframe.

"The Euro-Net system at Bank of The Bahamas is for card processing. The evidence before the magistrate at trial was that it was the loss prevention department of Bank of The Bahamas which directed Ms Ijeoma to run queries on misappropriated funds connected to two test cards issued to the appellant.

"At the same time, she disabled the appellant's access in the system and then sought support from a Canadian consultant to assist with querying the Euro-Net platform on the computer system to see what access the appellant would have had which were not in line with his job functions.

"The Canadian consultant ran the queries using the Euro-Net system and Ms Ijeoma watched from her computer screen. The queries produced four reports that were saved in a system folder for review by the loss prevention department."

The Court of Appeal judgment added that Ms Ijeoma and Mr Bowe were the only two persons that could access the system remotely, but it was the latter who had signed out for the two test cards used to perpetrate the theft.

Mr Bowe also gave conflicting explanations as to the location where he had left the two test cards, and the Court of Appeal concluded: "In this case we do not harbour any lurking doubt based on either the evidence or on a subjective feel of the case to cause us to feel that justice was not done."

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