Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 7, Issue 22, Tuesday, May 29, 2012




Beware of fraudsters

By Nasreen Sattar,
Former CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, Afghanistan

I remember how concerned we used to be when I was working in Afghanistan about the rampant fraudulent activities that took place in the banking industry. Because it was a high-risk country we had ensured all necessary controls were in place, yet the fraudsters were always one step ahead.

One of our top customers, an international organisation, frantically called one morning to inform us that they could see a debit of US$ 30,000 in their bank statement and they were sure they had made no such transaction. We immediately started an investigation on that particular transaction -- the date it happened, kind of transfer and most importantly, the recipient of the amount.

The authorised signatories looked so authentic on the transfer instruction form that it was impossible for us to differentiate and also the seal of the organisation was equally authentic looking.

It was a difficult task -- the customer, however, was very cooperative in agreeing to do their own internal investigation while we did ours. Our first thought was that someone from their own organisation was in the wrong and they thought it could be someone from our bank. Who does one believe?

We realised that the most important thing was to find out where the transfer was made, in whose name and in which bank. Once we verified the bank my colleague, who was in charge of the Operations Department, and I rushed there hoping that the money was still lying in the recipient's account and we could retrieve it after proving it was a fraudulent transfer.

The bank in question was very helpful and in no time we found out that the money transferred was to an individual's recently opened account, belonging to a beautiful Afghan woman by the name of Zumana.

Unfortunately for us, the day it was transferred, the withdrawal of the full amount happened literally simultaneously. Obviously the account was opened for this purpose only. With the information in the Account Opening Form one of our officers went to the address given as the home address of Zumana -- to our dismay no such address even existed!

Although banks are supposed to verify addresses at the time of opening an account, it is next to impossible to do this in Afghanistan. Streets and home numbers rarely exist in some areas (mainly in the lower income areas) and you have to accompany the customer to find out where he or she lives.

Not being able to find any trace of the fraudster we had to reimburse the customer, but it was a lesson well learnt. More controls were put in place and for every transaction above US$1000 a telephone call had to be made to ensure the validity of the transfer. The police were involved, but they turned out to be more of a hindrance than a help!

The moral of the story is the importance of keeping your money safe, it is your hard earned money and you don't want someone else to get access to it. Cheque books or instruction forms should be kept under lock and key. Ensure when you write a cheque the words and figures tally and do not leave any gap between the figures. Also make sure the requisition slip in the cheque book is there when you collect it and remember this slip is just as important as your cheque book.


Fabric flowers

By Nazia Farzin Shafiq

People always ask me about the headbands adorning my daughters. I happily respond that I made them. Today, let us create the two kinds of flowers that I often use for headbands and other adornments. I learned this on Youtube, and ended up making several dozen varieties of fabric flowers. Some were single and others were clusters with fabric leaves, glitter, and artificial pearls and rhinestones.

So let us start. You will need polyester satin or sheer fabric. I will be using bright and shiny red fabric from my daughter's old dress. Using the fabric, you'll need to cut 4 progressively smaller circles. They don't have to be perfect circles but do the best you can. Here's a tip: first, cut the fabric into squares and then reshape them to circles.

Next, you will need to light a candle to create the natural-looking flower curves. Take your circle shiny side facing the flame and let the flame tip kiss the edge of the fabric. You will see that as it heats, the edge will melt. Let the flame heat the fabric just inside that edge to gently encourage it to turn inward. Once you've finished all of your pieces you'll have a nice stacked set of petals. Stitch them together. For embellishment you can hot-glue a pretty button or some pearl beads. Just do what you think you'll like most.

Now, cut two petals from felt or any heavy material or you can use green ribbon to give you the illusion of petals and using a thread to stitch all the pieces together and hot-glue it onto your hair band or clip. This is optional but you can also attach the flower and the petals onto another felt circle with some hot-glue. This will give a neat finish to your end product. Trust me, the end result is much prettier than the attached pictures.

Using the same process, you can make a different-shaped flower. Take another fabric and cut squares in progressively smaller sizes: one 4-inch square, one 3½ -inch square, one 3-inch square, and one 2½ -inch square.

Cut slits on each side of the square. Using a lit candle, melt all the outside edges and down each slit until they shrivel and you like the way they look. Stack the squares together from smallest on top to biggest on bottom. Now stitch or hot-glue the whole thing together. Hot-glue a coordinating felt circle on the back of each flower to hold the whole thing together. Add a centre embellishment if desired.

Do let me know how your flowers turned out.

You can email me at lifestyleds@ yahoo.com or find me on the Facebook page “Hair Accessories”.


X to Y

By Iffat Nawaz

Dear Mr X,
I am writing this letter to you because I have been meaning to write to someone like you for quite sometime now. Maybe not exactly like you, the others like you probably have more hair on their heads, or whiter teeth, taller probably, maybe a bit chubbier. But overall, if you look closely enough, especially into their eyes you would know they are just like you, in fact you probably share the same soul jointly with them.

You know what I am talking about, right? Someone like you, holding a little bit of power, someone who can misuse that power with all their might, left and right, just to remind yourself even more how much stronger you are than the rest of us and how you control all of our fates.

You could be the guy at the bank counter who doesn't let the last customer cash his cheque even though he is in dire need of the money, or a security guard at the airport who strip searches innocent people making them miss their flights, or a visa officer, utterly miserable in some foreign country making sure the lives of all those in that nation are also as miserable as yours just by not letting them have a visa to visit your native land, because you can make them feel like they are not good enough.

I want you to know, that I know you. You were that kid in class who had aspirations to be the sidekick of the bully but you never made it fully into that group. You were an average student who used a lot of cliches throughout life giving people the notion that you somehow lived by a higher moral code, like you knew the difference between right and wrong. And you sir, you never believed in dreams, or the colour grey, or exceptions.

When you grew up and put on that uniform of yours, the bank perfect shirt and tie, or that blue of some patrol squad, or some sorry looking tailored pants too old for your aging waist, you took a vow that you will live up to your exterior.

You made sure that your signature or your fake gun gets noticed by all who interact with you. You made sure that people get scared, they get confused by your stern look.

My father use to say “Be careful of people with little power, they are most likely to misuse it and make you feel smaller than the power they hold.”

I know you are hooked on television serials that have too many characters and lots of guns and blood, you like the word “rule”, and you always have your work badge on, probably even when you sleep. You got married to a girl who even you thought was mediocre and then had children who don't want to talk to you much. You tell yourself it's just a phase because they are teenagers. But seriously I know you know, it's more than that.

Dear Mr. X I don't believe in communism, anarchy or haikus, and I certainly don't believe in your little power. And I wish everyday that you would wake up crying, first time in many years, remembering all the small dreams you crushed, the cheques you didn't cash, the woman who never made it to her vacation because you didn't care for her last name, or the stamp or a seal you didn't give to someone just because you didn't like their face. I do hope one day all the faces crowd your beady eyes and you have the heart to say sorry.

Ms. Y


By Tommy Miah

Grilled honey-lime chicken drumsticks
15 servings.
2 c. sherry
1½ tbsp cinnamon
1¼ cups honey
½ cups lime juice
3 cloves garlic
Chilli powder

Combine the sherry, cinnamon, honey, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Wash and dry the chicken pieces. Arrange in shallow pans and pour the marinade over them. Turn the pieces to coat them well. Cover and refrigerate overnight or longer if desired.

When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the pans and bring it to room temperature.

Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill or broil it in the oven in batches, basting with the marinade and turning frequently, for approximately 30 minutes or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced.

Beef Satay with peanut sauce
For the beef Natay
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely crushed with a pinch of sea salt
400-450g beef fillet, trimmed of fat and sinew
1 handful mixed herbs or small salad leaves, to serve

For the peanut sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large shallots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cm piece ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1½ tbsp light soy sauce
250 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
100 g crunchy peanut butter

For the beef Satay: mix the vegetable oil, chilli and garlic together in a small bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brush this mixture all over the beef fillet.

Cover the beef fillet with cling film and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Remove the beef from the fridge 15 minutes before you're ready to cook it.

For the peanut sauce: heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry gently without colouring for 4-5 minutes until they start to soften, then stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Pour in the soy sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has reduced; then pour in the coconut milk and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is thoroughly incorporated into the sauce, adding a splash of boiling water if you prefer a slightly thinner sauce.

To cook the beef, heat a griddle pan over high heat until smoking. Unwrap the beef and add to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare, ensuring the surface of the beef is browned all over.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave the beef to rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a chopping board and carve into 2-3 cm thick strips then thread each strip onto a short wooden skewer.

Brush a little of the peanut sauce over the beef skewers and divide the remaining peanut sauce between individual dipping bowls.

To serve, divide the beef Satay skewers between warm serving plates and scatter over the mixed herbs. Serve the bowls of peanut sauce alongside for dipping.

Salmon Hariyali tikka
Salmon is rubbed with a paste made with cilantro, mint, and other distinctive flavours. Chicken legs may also be used, or a combination of legs and breasts. This recipe is cooked in the oven, but will work well on the grill. Serve hot with onion rings.

1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp green chilli paste
1 tbsp salt
1 pound salmon, cut into chunks

In a large bowl, grind together the cilantro, mint leaves, ginger garlic paste, lemon juice, green chilli paste, and salt. Place the salmon in the bowl, and rub with the mixture. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat the oven broiler. Lightly grease a baking dish.
Place the chicken in the baking dish, and broil 20 minutes.

Naazuk kebab
1¼ tsp vinegar
2½ tbsp ginger-garlic paste
4 green chillies, chopped
1½ tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 level tsp kasoori methi, powdered
2 tsp salt or to taste
½ tsp white pepper powder
900g boneless chicken breasts
4¼ tbsp oil
6 tsp sieved gram flour (besan)
2½ fresh breadcrumbs
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
A few strands of saffron crushed and soaked in one tbsp of water

Mix together vinegar, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies, coriander leaves, kasoori methi, saffron, salt and pepper. Wash and dry the chicken, pieces. Add to this mixture and mix well. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan, add gram flour and fry for a min. Add the chicken and sauté on low heat until the chicken cubes are half cooked.

Add breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Remove onto a plate and leave to cool.

Skewer the chicken cubes leaving a distance of about 1½ inches between each piece. Grill on an electric grill until done.

Now push the cubes close to each other and dip them to coat with the lightly beaten egg yolk.

Grill on an electric grill till the egg coating turns to golden brown in colour. Remove from the skewer. Serve hot. Garnish with onion rings.


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2012 The Daily Star