I hope more artists start standing up to banks.
$190,000 withdrawn in $20 bills
Irate bank customer hits back
By LAURA BASHAM - The Nelson Mail
Last updated 13:02 23/07/2009
Defiant Mapua artist Roger Griffiths today made a stand against Westpac by withdrawing his $190,000 savings in $20 notes.
The bank provided a red-and-black carry bag to take away the cash after meticulously counting it in front of Mr Griffiths at its Nelson branch.
Mr Griffiths, a loyal Westpac customer for 25 years, decided to withdraw his money after the bank rejected his application for an $80,000 mortgage. "It's about time normal people took a stand."
He said the bank turned down his application because he did not have a regular income as an artist. However, he was a successful artist, exhibiting his paintings at the World of Wearable Art complex, in Christchurch and New York, he said.
He wanted to buy a $385,000 property in Mapua, had $200,000 in cash and was going to sell his $110,000 campervan.
That more than met the bank's criteria for a 20 per cent deposit, and the property which included a home and commercial premises would have returned $500 a week, he said.
He was disappointed when his loan application was rejected, but it was Westpac losing $111 million to Lane Walker Rudkin Industries that tipped his decision to withdraw his money.
"They can lose $110 million with LWR but turn down a normal customer who has never missed a loan payment," he said. "If they don't have the trust in me after 25 years, there's a problem for Westpac."
Having decided to withdraw his money, he then decided to make it hard for the bank by requesting payment in $20 bills.
He said the Nelson branch told him it did not have that amount and he would have to also go to other branches at Stoke, Richmond and Motueka. However, he insisted the bank have the money ready to collect at 9am today. He then took it to the Nelson Building Society, saying he would rather deal with NBS because it was part of the community.
His message to Westpac: "If you don't support the community, the community won't support you."
Mr Griffiths' protest comes after a series of embarrassments for Westpac. On Tuesday its former Alexandra bank manager admitted defrauding the bank of more than $400,000, and it has been left red-faced over the slip-up that allowed $10 million to be wrongly credited to a Rotorua service station co-owner who had since fled to China.
Westpac media relations manager Craig Dowling said today that when the bank lent money it required certain information to be provided to enable that lending to be done prudently.
"It's about providing evidence of an ability to meet regular repayments."
In Mr Griffiths' case that information was not provided for it to be assessed, he said. Mr Griffiths' withdrawal was disappointing.
"We would like to welcome Mr Griffiths back. We just need the confidence regular repayments can be met."