Disbelief, denial and anger
Andrea Gordon, the former National Commercial Bank (NCB) executive who will spend just under eight years in prison for siphoning off $34 million from that entity, is apologising to her two adult children who say they are still caught up in disbelief, denial and anger.
According to information shared ahead of Gordon’s sentencing in the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston yesterday, her son, Odain Ffrench, who is before the Half-Way-Tree Criminal Court along with his father Lloyd Ffrench on related fraud charges “is upset with her for implicating him in the matter”, while her daughter, a 21-year-old university student overseas, “is still in denial”.
Gordon’s son told a social worker that his mother, who was his “best friend”, had “acted out of character”. He claimed that when he heard of the matter he was in disbelief and “could not understand why she had gotten herself in that situation”.
Her daughter — who described her mother as a confidante and a professional, hard-working and respected individual — said she always gave the impression that she was holding everything together well. The daughter said the news of her mother’s arrest was “shocking” and that she is still in disbelief.
Fifty-two-year-old Gordon, who was employed to the bank for approximately 30 years, was, at the time of her arrest and charge, the manager at the bank’s operations centre at 29 Trafalgar Road in St Andrew. The last recorded salary for Gordon was in the amount of just over $11.1 million annually.
An internal probe was triggered after information received revealed that Gordon’s assigned password had been used to access the bank’s system and several transactions posted, which constituted a breach of the bank’s policies. The transactions, which “appeared to be fraudulent”, saw funds from the bank’s internal accounts being posted to Gordon’s account as well as accounts belonging to relatives and other customers, with several amounts being for items of clothing and accessories.
According to the allegations before the court, investigations revealed that Gordon posted approximately 282 suspicious transactions totalling $111,262,660.21. The transactions were done between February 2017 and May 2020. She was, however, indicted for only $34 million.
Yesterday, a subdued Gordon, dressed similarly to when she last appeared in court in April, sat in the dock, her head bowed as the details of a police antecedent report and a social enquiry report were read into the records of the court.
According to the social enquiry report, the ex-banker, who accepted responsibility for her actions, had “tearfully disclosed” that she ran into financial difficulties in 2017 when renovating her 30 Coolwater Avenue house in St Andrew. She claimed she conceived the plan on her own to take the money to cover construction costs for the five-bedroom, four-bathroom structure.
The disgraced banker, who admitted she knew her “behaviour was wrong” and had “struggled from the outset”, said the situation has been “extremely traumatising” for herself and her family and that she cannot think of anything worse that she could have done.
“To her, nothing she did makes any sense, but she accepts full responsibility,” the court was told. It also heard that Gordon had said she was “extremely ashamed and tormented” that she had “betrayed” her family, employer, co-workers and friends, as she was someone “they looked up to”.
“She indicated that her son is upset with her for implicating him in the matter, and for that she is sorry,” the court was told.
According to the probation officer, Gordon, who appeared remorseful, seemed to have used her years of experience at the bank to deceive her employers, adding that her explanation of “being sidetracked is appalling”. She also said based on the circumstances and the banker’s background she “cannot be taken lightly”.
Yesterday, Gordon’s attorney, Vincent Wellesley, in his plea in mitigation, emphasised that his client, based on the fact that she pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, should benefit from the full 50 per cent discount provided for in law for such instances.
He said the fact that she had waived her right to go to trial, instead of letting the matter lag, was another reason for the court to show her leniency.
On April 29 Gordon pleaded guilty to 13 counts on an indictment charging her with three counts of larceny as a servant, three counts of cybercrime and seven counts of money laundering.
Supreme Court Justice Lorna Shelly Williams, handing down the verdict yesterday, said Gordon’s actions constituted “a breach of trust”.
In respect of the three counts of larceny as a servant (counts 1, 2 and 3 on the indictment) Gordon was sentenced to five years and four months on each count.
Regarding the three counts of cybercrime (counts 4, 5 and 6 on the indictment) she was sentenced to two years and 11 months on each count. In relation to the seven counts of money laundering she was sentenced to seven years and six months on each count. The sentences amount to just over 77 years. However, they will run concurrently, making it so that she will spend the longest of the three sentences, effectively seven years and six months.
Gordon, who will mark her 53rd birthday this Saturday, benefited from a 20 per cent discount for her guilty plea in respect of each count and also received further reductions based on the month spent in custody ahead of sentencing.
Meanwhile, a case management hearing in relation to an application for a forfeiture and pecuniary penalty order filed by the Financial Investigations Division (FID) on behalf of the Asset Recovery Agency is scheduled for July 9. The FID in April had signalled its intention to recoup under the Proceeds of Crime Act any wealth gained by Gordon. The order is one of two which may be made against an individual after being convicted.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login