How to manage strong Room of a bank?
Handling of Keys is one of the most critical activity at the branch. Robust control on keys directly reflects the discipline that a branch exudes. Keys can generally be classified into Critical and Non-critical. Critical keys are generally the keys for Cash Vault, Cash counter, Vault room and Branch keys. Non critical keys could be for the drawers, cupboards etc. Criticality is chiefly governed by the requirement of dual locking/custodians for sensitive storages like Cash Vault, Vault room etc. Non critical keys are keys for single custodians and are for non-sensitive but important storages like workstation drawers, cupboards etc.
Key handling for both critical and non critical keys is important, however, the degree of importance and hence controls differ.
Some of the important controls for Critical Keys are:
- Labelling of keys and bunching them in a set as in Set1 & Set 2 or Set A & Set B.
- Record the key numbers, distinct identifier of key of each set in the Key register and both
custodians should sign this in the register.
- Make sure that any movement of keys is recorded in a key movement register, signed by new &
old custodians with date and time entry in the register.
- Ideally key movement entry should be done under CCTV recording and post verification of cash
or taking inventory of contents of secured storage by the new custodian.
- Set 1/A keys custodian can never have access or hold set 2/B keys and vice versa even at a later
date when he/she is no longer handling that particular set.
- Critical keys should never be shared by the custodians to unauthorized custodians/office boys,
- Information about custody of keys should be kept discreet by the custodians.
- Key movement register should be reviewed on a periodic basis to ensure that it is properly
updated and reflects the correct position in respect of keys held by custodians.
Custody of Keys:
A Register (B-24) of all-important keys, including those of he Cashier must be kept at every branch. This Register will contain full particulars of the keys of the branch and will show where
the originals and the duplicates are to be found. The entries in the register will be initialled by the official holding the original key and the Manger. The entries should’ also be initialled by
every incoming Manager, whenever there is any change of Manager. “Important keys” include keys of strong- room, doors and safes and cabinets therein containing cash, gold, ornaments,
banks’ and correspondents’ control documents, articles in safe deposit, documents of value to the Bank, revolver and gun licenses etc.
Custodians of Important Keys:
None of the custodians is authorized to leave the ‘Important keys’ with any officials without the written approval of the Manager and Manager without the approval of the competent
authority. Such approval should be recorded in the Key Register (B-24) by making proper entry under due authentication of the Branch Incumbent.
When the strong-room keys and other keys are kept in the personal safe of the Manager (or the 2nd officer jointly in-charge of cash), the key of the safe in which they are lodged must not leave
his custody. Sub-ordinate employees of other unauthorized persons must never be allowed to handle the keys of the strong-room and safes, for any purpose whatsoever. Should this by any
chance occurs, the circumstances must be immediately reported in full to Head Office so that necessary steps may be taken to safeguard the Bank’s interest. A small safe may also be given to
the 2nd Officer/Cash in-Charge for keeping the strong-room keys, important documents etc. and others keys held by him. The key of this safe must not leave his custody. The important keys
should never be given to any unauthorized officer or person nor made visible during the course of use and custody at any moment.
In the event of absence from duty, the 2nd Office/Cash-in-Charge may, subject to the approval of the Manager, authorize his senior-most assistant to perform his duties.
Great care must be taken with all locks and keys. Any important key Showing signs of serious wear should be send to Head Office in a sealed packet in order that a new one may be made the
duplicate being used meanwhile. No important key may be made, and, except in an emergency, no repair to any important lock may be carried out by local mechanics without the prior
permission of Head Office.
- The duplicate keys of the strong-room and the duplicates of all other important keys must be greased and labelled and put into a strong wooden or tin box.
- The box containing the duplicate keys of the branch must be locked or otherwise secured, wrapped in waterproof cloth and sealed by the Manager with the branch seal in the presence of
the 2nd Officer/Cash-in-charge and the supervising official concerned. The packet will be labelled with the name of the branch.
- The box will then be signed by the Manager and deposited at the nearest branch of SIBL/the Bangladesh Bank or Sonali Bank or any other Bank of good standing as Head Office shall instruct.
If the duplicate keys are to be deposited by one branch with another near by branch of the Bank, the same procedure should be followed. In all cases, the relative safe deposit receipt will
be entered in the Branch Documents Register (B-26) and kept with the other documents in Branch documents file. The acknowledgement in this regard must be preserved along with the
duplicate copy of the forwarding letter duly signed by the Manager & 2nd Officer.
- Duplicate keys must be removed from the safe deposit at every inspection/audit of the branch and whenever there is change of Manager, 2nd Officer/ Cash-in-Charge. The reason for and the duration of their holding after withdrawal will be recorded in the Key Register (B-24) .
- The packet must be opened by the Manager in the presence of the 2nd Officer & Cash-in-Charge of Cash who will themselves break the seals on the packets containing their keys.
- When the duplicate keys have been examined, they may be taken into use and in their place the originals may be deposited in the packet in accordance with previous para. If, however, the duplicate keys are more worm than the original, the duplicates will be re-greased and re-deposited.
- Every effort must be made to return the packet for safe deposit in the same day, failing which the steps taken for its safe keeping must be reported to Head Office/Zonal Office. When the packet is held by another branch, the dates of its withdrawal and redeposit will also be advised to Head Office/ Zonal Office by that branch.
- The duplicate keys of all other cabinets, Almira’s, boxes etc. will be greased and labelled showing the names of the official holding the originals thereof and locked in a box, the key of which will be kept by the Manager or the authorized officer and kept in the strong-room.
Particulars of these keys will be recorded in a separate section of the Branch Keys Register.
Controls for Non-critical keys are also important to ensure that there is no disruption in branch functioning and customer service is unaffected. Recording the non critical keys
and maintaining a key hive box for them is a good enough control. However, branch needs to be make sure that access to key hive box is restricted and keys availability is
reviewed periodically e.g once in six months.
Safety / Security of Strong Room during Transaction Hours
Strong Room / Vault must be kept Closed / Locked during transactions hours under Joint Control of two key holders from Triple Custodians and both the Joint Controllers must be present
whenever the strong room is re-opened during the Day / Office Hours. Cash In-charge must keep his / her hand balance (exceeding counter limit) in a steel box under lock & key in the strong
Cautionary Notes on Security:
- All concerned are advised not to keep any amount in their vault/counter exceeding the cash limit covered by the insurance taken for their respective branches and in case of remittance per single carry limit must not be exceeded.
- All officials should not go to prayer at a time keeping the cash unsafe rather it may be performed by phases.
- No doubtful entry of stranger shall be allowed inside the branch.
- None other than the branch officials shall be allowed inside the branch premises during the lunch/prayer period.
- Entire cash shall be taken off from the counter and be kept in the safe separately in the vault during lunch/prayer time. If not possible, the cash counter shall invariably be guarded to prevent unauthorized entry of any unauthorized person in side the counter.
- No cash in the counter be kept open to the reach of outsiders/unauthorized officials .The custodian is responsible for making over the cash and must be vigilant in every step.
- Control over computer operations should be ensured .Daily computer sheets should invariably be checked by the respective authorized officer other than the computer operator, from the vouchers.
- Key of vault/safe/Almira must be under the custody/possession of the respective authorized custodian and be used by them in every deposit/withdrawal duly recorded.
How to manage strong Room of a bank?
Contributor: Syed Joynul Abedin
SAVP & GB In-charge, Principal Br, SIBL.
How to manage strong Room of a bank?