VENTURA, Calif. (CN) – A grieving family says their father was killed when U.S. Bank employees conspired to rob him and disclosed his weekly trips to make large cash transactions, leading to his slaying on the bank’s steps.
The family says U.S. Bank could have prevented the death of Gurmohinder Singh had it not disclosed his business transactions to other customers and employees, and with proper security.
Singh, a shareholder in GNT Investments and its several grocery stores in Ventura County, withdrew stacks of $100 bills each week to meet payroll and the needs of his stores.
U.S. Bank conducted the transactions in plain view of other customers, producing the cash in bundles of $100 bills “which resulted in stacks several inches high,” according to two complaints in Ventura County Court – one on behalf of the family and one on behalf of GNT Investments. Singh’s cash transactions typically involved around $100,000, according to the complaint.
“The bank is the dominant personality here. They called the shots, and could have conducted this transaction in a private room,” said lead attorney John Brown. “My banker called me and said he couldn’t believe that they would do that.”
The family says Singh was not provided with security when he made the trip to his car, and that drew the attention of bank customer/defendant Maria Lissette Bucio, whom Brown said had a “very special relationship with the bank.”
Employees allegedly would open the bank after it had closed so that Bucio could make her transactions.
Bucio “learned of (GNT’s) banking arrangements by actual observation and by revelations made by bank personnel, especially David Friedman and Orlando Campos,” according to the complaint.
Knowing that Singh would make a withdrawal on Saturday morning, Aug. 16, 2008, the family says Bucio conspired with U.S. Bank employees to commit the robbery that resulted in Singh’s murder.
“The bank has a contractual obligation for confidentiality, and they breached it when they brought out huge stacks of cash and conducted the transaction right on the counter. It was incredible the lack of security,” Brown said. “You would think that a bank with $267 billion in assets could afford an armed guard, or at least an escort to help the guy to his car.”
Brown said that although “people are fascinated by this case because it’s like a movie,” the tragedy of Singh’s death is compounded by the fact that as Indian immigrants, he and GNT Investments were unaware of their confidentiality rights. “These Indian people came to this country, worked 24/7 to put themselves in the position to own four markets and these people killed the American dream for them,” Brown said. “If they had been more intelligent about their rights in this country, then this would not have happened.”
The family seeks $15 million in damages for wrongful death. Brown, of Oxnard, represents the plaintiffs in both cases.