Some of Kenya’s top banks are in the firing line for their alleged role in facilitating and aiding corruption.
KCB Group, Equity Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays
Kenya , and Co-operative Bank are among a dozen of other top
lenders being targeted by anti-corruption police officers as the government
tries to trace corruption loot stashed away in these bank accounts.
A Nairobi magistrate’s court has ordered bank managers to
freeze bank accounts of graft suspects mentioned in the National Youth Service
(NYS) for six months as the State starts to seize assets acquired through theft
of Sh8 billion from the agency.
The court issued the freezing orders following an application
by Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) investigating Officer Frederick Musyoki.
“I pray for the order to investigate the above accounts to
enable me access information and documents relating to the said accounts and
use for purposes of investigations,” said Musyoki in court documents.
this month, Central Bank governor Patrick Njoroge announced that the banking
regulator and the office of the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had
launched a probe on the banks involved in the NYS scandal. He warned local
banks of severe action including being blacklisted if they were found culpable
of the graft offense.
“Banks have no excuses because they know the law,” the governor said.
Njoroge said regulatory guidelines on handling the proceeds of corruption are
clear to all financial institutions making chief executive officers of those
that flouted the rules personally liable.
their dramatic arrest close to two weeks ago, dozens of senior officials and
business people remain holed in custody battling graft charges related to the
theft of millions of shillings from the youth agency.
Musyoki argued that the suspects and their associates were set to withdraw,
transfer all the funds in the bank accounts and frustrate the ongoing
investigations for recovery of public money stolen if the freeze order is not
said the suspects were paid through accounts held in nearly 10 banks for
services and goods not delivered.
mentioned in the ARA suit include top lenders like KCB Group , Equity Bank ,
Standard Chartered Bank , Barclays Kenya , and Co-operative Bank .
are Stanbic Kenya, National Bank, Consolidated Bank, Credit Bank, NIC Bank,
I&M Bank and Guaranty Bank.
requires all financial institutions including banks, insurance companies and
saccos to file with the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) daily reports on
transactions above Sh1 million and those deemed suspect.
to preliminary findings in the NYS scandal, multiple payments running into tens
of millions of shillings were authorised from the Integrated Financial
Management Information System to the involved companies’ accounts at intervals,
releasing the whole amount in less than an hour after it was asked for.
payments raises the red flag on whether commercial banks involved reported any
suspicious transactions to the CBK.
executives and persons convicted for handling illicit cash face a Sh1 million
fine, and a three-year jail term, while institutions including banks, credit
unions found culpable of facilitating such deals risk losing their licenses and
fined up to Sh20 million.