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The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, November 21 (1840)

278

British and Australian Bank.
Curious Disclosures.

It will be in the recollection of our readers that this establishment figured very discreditably before the magistrates some time back, in the case of a poor Swiss, who paid £40 to Mr. Gough, the manager of the Chatham Bank, for a letter of credit made payable at the Australian Bank, 55, Moorgate-street, at which place the agency of Mr. Gough, as regards pecuniary transactions, was repudiated by Mr. Boucher, although the Chatham Bank appeared in the list of their agents. This establishment has lately been advertising very extensively the advantages resulting to emigrants, who, by depositing £100 in the Moorgate Bank, would receive letters of credit on Adelaide or Sydney for £105. On Saturday, Mr. F. Boucher, the manager of the Bank, attended at the Mansion-house, before the Lord Mayor, to answer the statement of Mr. Ashurst, on behalf of his clients, Messrs. Bass, of Burton-on-Trent.
Mr. Ashurst stated that his client had received, in due course of business, a draft for £200, at thirty days' eight, drawn by C. Boucher, the agent for the bank at Sydney, on F. Boucher, the managing director of the bank in London. This bill, however, was refused acceptance by the London house, because C. Boucher, the drawer, was the agent for Adelaide, and not for Sydney; and the bill was not accepted, because it was drawn from Sydney, and not from Adelaide. Upon this, an epistolary correspondence commenced between Messrs. Bass and Mr. F. Boucher, the result of which was, a threat on the part of the London Bank, to take proceedings against them, if they stated anything to the discredit of the bank, and a disinclination to give the names of the directors of the bank, as requested by Messrs. Bass.—The Lord Mayor thought it a case of considerable importance to the commercial world, and requested to know what answer Mr. Boucher had to make on the part of the bank.
Mr. Thomas, who accompanied Mr. Boucher, then said he was instructed to state that Mr. Charles Boucher, the brother of the manager, was appointed at the formation of the establishment to go to Adelaide as agent. Before, however, that gentleman arrived there advices were received that he was shipwrecked. Mrs. Boucher, his wife, soon afterwards died, and Mr. Charles Boucher, in fact, never attempted to assume the character of agent at that place, and no transaction took place in business with him. Now, the agents at Sydney were Messrs. Walker and Co., who were authorised to draw from that place upon the bank, and where drafts would have been duly honoured of course, but Mr. Charles Boucher was not authorised, and why he drew upon the bank from Sydney the manager could not tell. In answer to Mr. Ashurst, Mr. Thomas declared that the deed was at his office. It was not yet filled up with the directors' names, but they were men of the highest respectability, and that he had not the slightest objection to show Mr. Ashurst the deed. Both parties then retired for the inspection of the deed, and in a short time Mr. Ashurst returned and stated that he had seen the deed, but not a single director's name was attached to it. He at the same time called the magistrate's attention to a statement and correspondence in the Sydney Herald of June 15th, giving the particulars of some of the drafts drawn by the directors of the bank in Moorgate-street, on Charles Boucher, Adelaide, which had been dishonoured and returned to England under protest for payment. It appeared that the bills in that condition amounted to £3,299. The very singular correspondence in the Sydney Herald, however, was the matter to which he peculiarly claimed the attention of his Lordship and the manager. It consisted of two letters purporting to be written by the manager to his brother, and were as follows.—
"The British and Australasian Bank, 55, Moorgate-street, London, (No. 18), 23d October, 1839.—Per Rajasthan —Dear Sir: I beg to inform yon that it is the intention of the Directors of this bank, on hearing from you as to your location and prospects at Adelaide, to remit yon five thousand pounds (5,000) in bills on Messrs W. Walker and Co. of Sydney, drawn by their London firm (Messrs. Walker, Brothers, and Co.) In the meantime, in order to meet your engagements on behalf of this bank, the Directors authorize you to negotiate bills to the extent of ten thousand pounds (10,000) on this bank, or on myself, as managing Director thereof. I am, dear sir, yours very truly, F. Boucher, Managing Director. Charles Boucher, Esq., Adelaide." Addressed outside "Charles Boucher, Esq., Adelaide, South Australia, per Rajasthan."
"The British and Australian Bank. 55, Moorgate-street, London, (No. 19). October 25, 1839. Per Rajasthan. My dear Charles—Do not draw on the authority contained in my letter of the 23d instant, until you hear further from me. In the meantime it may serve to exhibit in case of need. I am, my dear Charles, yours affectionately, Fred. Boucher, Managing Director. Charles Boucher, Esq., Adelaide." Addressed outside—"Charles Boucher, Esq., Adelaide, South Australia, per Warrior."
On Tuesday, Alderman Pirie appeared, as one of the South Australian Land Association, to bring a charge against Mr. Frederick Boucher the manager of the concern called the British and Australasian Bank.
Mr. Beddome, a solicitor, said he represented the holder of a bill of exchange for £985, and twelve other parties whose money had been taken by the bank in Moorgate-street in September and October of last year, and who had received in return a bill and money-order payable at Adelaide. (The bills and correspondence were produced.) Now, on the arrival of these individuals at the colony with their families, many of them possessed of no property in the world, except the paper for which they had given their money, they in vain looked about foe the agent of the British and Australasian Bank; there appeared nobody to honour the bills of the Company, and back the bill for £985, and all the money orders were sent to England for recovery, most of the unfortunate persons who had reliance upon the representations of the Company being in a state of destitution, ten thousand miles from England. He should show that five weeks before Mr. Boucher's bank took those moneys and granted these orders, letters were in London stating that Mr. C. Boucher had left the colony, and made no provision whatever for honouring the drafts sent out there; but even at the very date of the bills, the manager of the British and Australasian Bank was writing to his brother not to use the letters of credit of which Mr. Ashurst had made such an exhibition on Saturday, but only to "exhibit it in case of need;" that early in December, 1839, he wrote to Mr. Wheeler, the manager of the South Australian Bank, stating that his brother had left the colony without making any arrangement whatever on behalf of the bank; and after most disgraceful delays in the civil actions which had been brought, and refusal to abide by what his attorney agreed to, he pleaded to Mr. Grote's bill of exchange five false pleas, in order to drive the plaintiffs back again to Australia; three of the pleas being such as he supposed could only be negatived in the colony. He (Mr. Beddome) had in his hand a document too. which testified pretty evidently to the system. It was Mr. Frederick Boucher's letter, offering only last week bills on Sydney in discharge of those poor people's bills which had already traversed the Atlantic. His Lordship could not long be in doubt as to the term that could be most property applied to such a transaction. Every honest mind must feel extreme indignation at it. Mr. Beddome here put in the dishonoured bill for £985 and the twelve money-orders, and read Mr. Frederick
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Boucher's letters to Mr. Charles Boucher, already referred to by Mr. Ashurst, relative to "drawing" and to merely "exhibiting," which bore date nine and eleven days after Mr. Grote's bill. He also read the following extract of a letter from Mr. Hopkins, in the colony, to Mr. Wheeler in London, which had been received in London on the 6th of September, 1839, long before the dates of the bill and orders, showing that Mr. Charles Boucher had left the colony without making any provision whatever for the bank:—"We notice your observations on the Australian Loan Company. The management of that concern here (should they open a branch at this place) cannot devolve on Mr. Charles Boucher, as that gentleman has just returned to the Mauritius per Caroline." From these documents, Mr. Beddome argued that it was quite impossible that the real state of the agency of Mr. Charles Boucher could have been misunderstood. He then showed that Mr. Frederick Boucher had admitted that the bill and money-orders were not paid either in London or in the colonies.
Mr. Ashurst—Pray, who are the Directors of the British and Australasian Bank? That is a question which I have frequently asked, without being able to obtain a satisfactory answer.
Mr. Beddome handed in a copy of the names in the prospectus of the British and Australasian Bank. Capital £1,000,000. The directors were Frederick Boucher, Esq., managing director, W. H. Burnand, Esq., George Cox, Esq., Daniel Fryett, jun., Esq., James Brodie Gordon, Esq., George S. Ogilvie, Esq., Wm. Henry Scarnett, Esq., Walter Scott, Esq., Geo. Witcomb, Esq., (with power to add to their number.) The trustees were Frederick Boucher, Esq., Geo. Cox, Esq., James B. Gordon, Esq., William H. Scarnett, Esq., Walter Scott, Esq.
One of the books of the bank, containing, as Mr. Boucher said, the Adelaide account, was here handed in, and Alderman Copeland and Alderman Pine looked over it, and vowed, after asking several questions, that it was wholly unintelligible to them.
Mr. Beddome having asked the name of the directors who attended the Board and transacted business, and their professions or trades, Mr. Boucher mentioned himself, Mr. George Whitcomb, Mr. W. H. Burnand, and Mr. W. Scott. He stated that others of the directors had withdrawn.
Here Mr. Richards, a ship-agent, stated that he had a short statement to make relative to the Adelaide agency. He had chartered a vessel in October, 1639, to Australia, with emigrants; one of them, named Patrick Hughes, had sold his pension, and had got an order for £98 10s. upon the agent at Adelaide. To accommodate the poor man he (Mr. Richards) had advanced him £28 10s., and instructed his agent to get the amount of the order when the vessel should arrive at that place, and pay over the difference to Hughes. Yesterday, however, he had received a letter from Adelaide, stating that the draft was unpaid, for there was no such bank there as that upon which it had been drawn. The poor man would, no doubt, be about the streets of Adelaide in a destitute condition. If the manager of the British and Australasian Bank had property in Adelaide, in whose hands was it, and why not at once apply it to the purposes for which it was presumed to be intended?
Mr. Boucher said that a gentleman of the name of Gouger had consented to act at Adelaide on behalf of the bank in the emergency occasioned by the absence of Mr. Charles Boucher.
Alderman Copeland said, that it did not appear to him that anything at all had been done by the manager of the British and Australasian Bank to have the orders of those poor men paid at Adelaide. The whole of the business seemed to be delusion from beginning to end.
The late Lord Mayor then, with the approbation of all present, appointed the following gentlemen to investigate the accounts—Mr. Beddome, Mr. Wheeler, and Mr. Richards, an eminent accountant.
The whole of the circumstances excited, as may be supposed, a great deal of interest. The above is a mere sketch of the proceedings.

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