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A Comprehensive Guide to the Banking Ombudsman of Pakistan

Sadia Zaheer
January 04, 2022

When we interact with banks and use their products, we can end up having problems and issues that don’t seem to get resolved by approaching the concerned branches and departments. In such cases, where time, energy, and efforts are being wasted running after bank officers, people can approach the Banking Ombudsman, also known as Banking Mohtasib.

The Banking Mohtasib can address any disputes and complaints that are based on Banking practices, discriminatory behaviour, operational issues, operational inefficiencies, violation of Banking Laws and Regulations, Harassment during or for recovery of Bank Loans. In the case of the bank being a Public Sector bank, the Mohtasib can also entertain complaints related to staff corruption, discrimination against customers, and maladministration.

Functions of the Banking Ombudsman

Ombudsman programs are considered successful globally. They have proven effective in solving banking related disputes. These programs have also served to improve the overall service quality and efficiency of the departments, sectors that they cover.

Banking Mohtasib

In many cases, Ombudsman offices have the authority and scope to identify problems that cause issues for the users and the customers. This identification can help to improve the business process to avoid future disputes between the business and its customers. This flexibility makes them a better stakeholder than the legal system, which can only resolve individual cases that come up to them for resolution.

Another important role is the cost saving element they offer. The legal option always has some high costs and expenses involved, which can stop many people from pursuing their grievances. The Ombudsman offices offer a quick, informal, and flexible option.

In Pakistan, the Banking Ombudsman works to implement good governance

in the financial sector. The Ombudsman offices ensure that all complaints are investigated and hopefully resolved through an independent body that offers impartial, free, and prompt service. The only condition is that the banks should come under the jurisdiction of the Banking Ombudsman.

The Banking Mohtasib does not entertain complaints against the State Bank of Pakistan, Micro Finance Banks, Investment Companies and Banks, Insurance Companies, Mutual Funds, Venture Capital Firms, Leasing Companies, DFIs, National Investment Trust, Housing Finance Companies, Overseas Branches and Subsidiaries of Pakistani banks.

What the Banking Ombudsman can do and what they cannot

All businesses houses and individuals with a dispute with a Bank can raise a complaint to the Banking Ombudsman. Another bank can also file a complaint against another Bank that falls under the jurisdiction of the Banking Ombudsman.

The Banking Muhtasib can address disputes and complaints that are based on Banking practices, discriminatory behaviour, operational issues, operational inefficiencies, violation of Banking Laws and Regulations, Harassment during or for recovery of Bank Loans. In the case of the Bank being a Public Sector bank, the Mohtasib can entertain complaints related to staff corruption, nepotism, and maladministration.

The following are the things that the Banking Mohtasib cannot do:

  1. The Banking Mohtasib does not have the authority to instruct banks to issue Loans, Advances, and Credit Cards to a complainant.
  1. The Banking Mohtasib has no authority to address complaints about a Bank’s interest rates, their waivers, any write-off policies, Risk Assessment Policies, Pricing of Products and Services, or anything related to the Schedule of Charges.
  1. The Banking Mohtasib cannot get involved in issues that have not been raised to the Mohtasib office. This exclusion also applies to complaints submitted by a party not involved directly in the dispute.
  1. Any employment related issues of Bank employees or its officers.
  1. Contractual obligations that are not directly linked to Banking Products and Services for customers.
  1. The Banking Mohtasib cannot get involved in any issues matter which the State Bank of Pakistan has decided
  1. Any complaint sub judice or already decided by a Court of Law.

How to Lodge a Complaint with the Banking Ombudsman

Banking Ombudsman

There is an entire chain of events or procedures that a complainant needs to follow before you can file a complaint with the Banking Mohtasib.

These steps are as follows:

  1. The complainant should write to the bank that the dispute is with and state that they intend to complain to the Banking Mohtasib.
  2.  If the complainant does not get a satisfactory response or gets no response within 45 days, they can file a complaint with the Banking Mohtasib within the next 45 days. If the complainant gets a decline letter, they can file a complaint immediately.

How to File a Complaint

The services of the Banking Ombudsman are completely free of cost. Complaints can be submitted by filling out the standard complaint form at any office. The complaint form needs to be completely filled out, signed by the complainant, and attested by an Oath Commissioner. The form should be accompanied by a letter stating the complaint. The letter should address the Banking Mohtasib and sent to:

Banking Mohtasib Pakistan
Shaheen Complex
5th floor, M R Kiyani Road
Karachi.

All complaints should be addressed to the Karachi Secretariat address above, where the complaints handling process has been centralized. The letter and form should also have copies of any communication with the bank and copies of all supporting documents of your complaint.

This entire package should be sent to the Banking Mohtasib with an attested Photostat copy of your CNIC duly marked for submission to Banking Mohtasib Pakistan.

How a Complaint is Processed at the Ombudsman Offices

According to the Ombudsman website, on receipt of the complaint, the office initially confirms that all routine requirements are fulfilled, and timeframes are with accepted requirements.

The office can then call both parties if more detailed information is needed to develop clarity about the issue. In fact, if needed, officials from the Banking Mohtasib office can also visit the bank to scrutinize their books, policies, and processes about the complaint.

The result of these investigations will be either:

  1. The complaint is found to be unjustified. In this case, the Banking Mohtasib office will inform the complainant about this and close the case.
  2. The complaint is found to be genuine. In such cases, the Banking Mohtasib will start a facilitation procedure to reach an amicable resolution between both parties. If the issue cannot be solved cordially, the Banking Mohtasib will pass an order asking the bank to resolve the situation or repay the complainant for their loss.

This entire process is expected to take up to 2 months. However, if the complaint or the underlying issue is complicated or the information provided is incomplete, inaccurate, or unavailable, the investigation process can take longer.

It is very important that if there is a complaint, the complainant fills in the Complaint Form clearly and attaches all copies of related documents.

Submitting a Review on Ombudsman Decisions

In case the complainant is unhappy with the decision of the Ombudsman, they can file a review petition.

The Ombudsman has the authority to evaluate the findings, approvals, order, or verdict on a review petition made by an aggrieved party within thirty days of the findings, recommendations, order, or decision.

The Ombudsman has to decide on the review petition within 45 days. 

The Ombudsman can alter, revise, amend, or recall the recommendation, order, or decision in their review

Representation to the President

If the review is unsuccessful, representation can be made to the President. Section 14 of the Federal Ombudsmen Institutional Reforms Act allows for a Representation to the President. The requirements for the representation are:

  • Any person or party aggrieved by a decision, order, findings, or recommendations of an Ombudsman can file for representation to the President within thirty days of the decision, order, findings, or recommendations.
  • The implementation of the disputed order, decision, findings, or recommendation will be suspended for up to sixty days.
  • The representation address the President directly to and will not go through any Ministry, Division, or Department.
  • The representation shall be processed in the office of the President by a person who had been or is qualified to be a judge of the Supreme Court or has been Wafaqi Mohtasib or Federal Tax Ombudsman.
  • The representation shall be decided within ninety days.
  • Additionally, by Section 10 of the Act, the Banking Ombudsman has been conferred with the powers of a Civil Court in the grant of temporary injunctions and for implementation of his recommendations, orders, or decisions.

Contact Details of Banking Ombudsman Offices

All complaints should be addressed to the Karachi Secretariat, where the complaints handling process has been centralized.

Karachi Secretariat
Banking Mohtasib Pakistan Secretariat
5th Floor,
Shaheen Complex,
M R Kiyani Road,
Karachi.

Telehone: +9221 – 99217334
Facsimile: +9221 – 99217375
Email: info@bankingmohtasib.gov.pk

Regional Offices of the Banking Ombudsman are:

Lahore Regional Office
Office of the Banking Mohtasib Pakistan
c/o SBP, Banking Services Corporation,
Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam,
Lahore.

Telephone: 042- 99210444
Facsimile: 042- 99210421

 

Peshawar Regional Office
Office of the Banking Mohtasib Pakistan
c/o SBP, Banking Services Corporation,
Saddar Road,
Peshawar.

Telephone: 091- 9213438
Facsimile: 091- 9213439

Quetta Regional Office
Office of the Banking Mohtasib Pakistan
c/o SBP, Banking Services Corporation,
Shahrah-e-Abbas Ali,
Quetta.

Telephone: 081- 9203144
Facsimile: 081- 9203145

 

Rawalpindi Regional Office
Office of the Banking Mohtasib Pakistan
c/o SBP, Banking Services Corporation,
The Mall,
Rawalpindi.

Telephone: 051- 9273252
Facsimile: 051- 9273253

 

Multan Regional Office
Office of the Banking Mohtasib Pakistan
c/o SBP, Banking Services Corporation,
Kalma Chowk,
Multan.

Telephone: 061- 9201482
Facsimile: 061- 9201481

 

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