Court holds a bank liable for disregarding faxed transmission

The Court finds evidentiary support for the factual conclusion of the lower courts. In a letter dated February 2, 1995 addressed to Joselito E. Jimenez, marked as Exhibit F, petitioner impliedly admitted having received respondents letter-request for transfer by facsimile transmission before the pretermination by Basilia Templa, viz:

x x x we regret our inability to effect the request of Mr. Jimenez through Mr. Robert S. Ostrovsky of Citibank San Francisco since we received the original letter on May 4, 1993, a day after Mrs. Basilia T. Jimenez preterminated the account. For your information, we do not act on faxed instructions from customers as we cannot verify faxed signatures. This control measure is in place to prevent unauthorized transactions and for the protection of bank customers against fraud.

Petitioner denies the admission now. However, its protestation cannot prevail over the clear import of Exhibit F. Exhibit F was written by petitioners Assistant Vice President for Citiphone Banking, Ms. Gina Marina P. Ordonez, in response to the formal inquiry regarding the questioned pretermination posed by the legal counsel of Joselito E. Jimenez before the civil action for damages was filed in court.
Petitioner cannot be excused from negligence in disregarding the faxed transmission. As the trial court correctly observed:

x x x the sender was the Branch Manager himself, Mr. Robert S. Ostrovsky, of x x x Citibank San Francisco, and not x x x a client. x x x Citibank cannot deny having received said fax message considering that it was a bank to bank fax transmission between 2 same banks. x x x x

x x x x There are now advanced facilities for communication especially in computerized systems of accounts. Ways and means, like fax transmissions, are available which make it very easy for one bank to communicate with a foreign branch. This notwithstanding, defendant Citibank did not care to do anything further regarding the fax message.

x x x [I]f indeed it had doubts on the fax message, simple prudence would require defendant Citibank not to entertain and/or to hold in abeyance any other transaction involving the time deposit in question until the fax message has been verified. To allow Basilia Templa to preterminate the subject time deposit despite the fax message sent by Citibank San Francisco is indeed sheer negligence which could have easily been avoided if defendant Citibank exercised due negligence (sic) and circumspection in the pre-termination of plaintiffs time deposit.

The Court of Appeals added: x x x [B]y the nature of is functions, a bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship. x x x [I]n dealing with its depositors, a bank should exercise its functions not only with the diligence of a good father of a family but it should do so with the highest degree of care. The banking business is so impressed with public interest where the trust and confidence of the public in general is of paramount importance such that the appropriate standard of diligence must be very high, if not the highest, degree of diligence. (G.R. No. 166878; December 18, 2007)