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NRI's dollar dreams crash in S Africa

Thangavelloo, a bank employee, lost out on becoming an instant millionaire as he had changed job.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 11:55 IST

A South African Indian bank employee is taking on one of the country's top banks after he lost out on becoming an instant millionaire as he had changed job.

Tishan Thangavelloo became an instant millionaire for just a few moments when one of the country's top financial institutions, First National Bank (FNB), drew his name as the winner in a competition aimed at encouraging staff to identify and expose fraud.

But as soon as it was realised that Thangavelloo had left the FNB just over a month earlier, another winner was drawn and a consolation prize of 50,000 rands offered to Thangavelloo.

The former employee has however insisted that he is entitled to the million rand prize as he was still employed at FNB at the time that his name was entered into the draw after he uncovered a fraudulent action that could have cost the bank dearly.

FNB chief executive of personal banking services Peet van der Walt said according to the rules of the competition, the winner had to be an employee of the bank at the time of the draw.

"I am sure this is a bad experience for Thangavelloo, but it stands out clearly in the rules," Van der Walt said.

Thangavelloo, who started working at a foreign exchange company in Johannesburg last month, said he had never seen any such rules.

"A million is something you wish for all your life. You can't understand why it does not happen to you but to others, and now that it has happened and been taken away almost immediately, I can't believe it," he said.

Van der Walt said that the staff would personally visit Thangavelloo to explain the situation to him.                               

FNB started the competition three years ago and has made several staff members millionaires in that period, with entrants having already saved the bank more than 42 million rands by their vigilance amid growing financial fraud in South Africa.