Malaysian Bank Sued by Customers after Robbery

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Thirty-three people have sued Malaysia's third-largest bank for more than 5 million ringgit (US$1.5 million, euro1.1 million) in damages for the loss of valuables in a bank burglary last year, their lawyer said Thursday.

The 33 filed a negligence suit at a high court Wednesday after negotiations for compensation with Public Bank broke down, said lawyer Tan Kim Soon.

They were among more than 90 depositors who lost their belongings kept in safe deposit boxes in a Public Bank branch during the heist in October 2006.

The bank has offered a settlement of 10,000 ringgit (US$2,857, euro2,086) for each box, but the 33 claimed they lost between 11,516 ringgit (US$3,290, euro2,402) and 921,000 ringgit (US$263,143, euro129,094) each, Tan told The Associated Press.

The group, aged between 25 and 65, claimed Public Bank failed to implement a safe and effective security system to prevent the break-in, he said.

They are seeking damages representing their total losses of about 5.1 million ringgit (US$1.5 million, euro1.1 million), and also additional damages, interest, and other compensation, he said.

Some of the other depositors, who are not part of this group, have reportedly accepted the settlement.

Tan said this was the third such court case against banks in recent years. Two other financial institutions were believed to have been found liable for the loss of valuables by depositors in the earlier two cases.

Public Bank officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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