By Alexander Dworkowitz
Worried patrons of a Chinatown bank flocked to the institution’s Flushing office on Main Street Tuesday to withdraw their money after the bank announced one of its managers at another branch had been fired.
Many customers of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank, which operates an office at 36-30 Main St., were concerned that their finances were no longer secure after the bank released information about one of its former employees.
Signs in Chinese posted on the window of the Flushing branch said the branch manager at the Chinatown headquarters had been fired after she was accused of taking money from customers’ accounts, according to a translation offered by some of the patrons.
The FBI was investigating the manager’s work at the bank, NY1 News reported. The FBI could not be reached for comment.
Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) headed to the Flushing branch Tuesday afternoon to help “calm the hysteria.”
“People were concerned mainly because there is a lack of understanding about our banking system, which is actually very dependable,” he said.
Abacus has six locations in the New York metropolitan area. It is headquartered at 6 Bowery St. in Chinatown. The bank’s only Queens branch is in Flushing, which has been operating for about two years. The chairman is Thomas Sung.
The rush was fueled by an announcemen Sung placed in the Chinese-language newspaper, The World Journal, which described Lim’s firing, as well as Chinese radio broadcasts reporting Lim’s departure.
On Tuesday afternoon, officers from the 109th Precinct came to the Flushing branch, attempting to calm down anxious patrons. Police were also called to break up a crowd around the main branch in Chinatown.
David Lee, the manager of the Flushing location, said his customers would not have any problems with their money.
“We are insured by the FDIC, so these people have no reason to be worried about their accounts,” he said.
Signs on the Flushing branch said customers’ deposits of up to $100,000 are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. But many patrons were still nervous.
“A lot of people want their money out,” said Lisa Ling, a customer at the Flushing branch, as she read the signs outside the bank after it closed Tuesday afternoon.
Ling said she was considering withdrawing her money from Abacus.
“I just worry the bank maybe has more problems,” she said.
Fred Fu, president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, which includes the Abacus branch as a member, said he thought its patrons were overreacting.
“Most people don’t have enough knowledge about law or economics,” he said.
Fu said if he were a customer of the bank, he would not stop doing business with them.
“I would keep my money over there to show I have confidence,” he said.
Reporters Tien-Shun Lee and Courtney Dentch contributed to this story.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.