Depositors’ agony as blame game on over Imperial Bank reopening

By: OTIATO GUGUYU

Shareholders of Imperial Bank have hit out at the Central Bank of Kenya, accusing the regulator of doing nothing to reopen the lender under receivership.

In an advert appearing on Wednesday, owners say CBK has not done anything in meeting its part of the bargain.

The troubled bank’s doors were supposed to be reopened this week.

“The plan calls for the appointment by KDIC (Kenya Depositors Insurance Corporation) of an independent professional firm to undertake a comprehensive due diligence which would include ascertaining conclusively the size of the funding gap, thereby allowing the finalisation and implementation of recovery plan. To our knowledge, this has not been conducted so far,” says a joint statement by shareholders.

RESTRUCTURING EXPERTS

The seven shareholders — Imaran Ltd, Reynolds & Company Ltd, East Africa Motors Industries Ltd, Momentum Holdings Ltd, Rex Motors Ltd, Kenblest Ltd, and Abdumal Investments — say CBK has also not appointed a team of restructuring experts to develop and implement the plan for reopening.

They also accuse the regulator of failing to appoint a team of restructuring experts to implement the roadmap to revive the bank as agreed between them and the CBK.

Although the Central Bank has been saying that it is in constant touch with the shareholders, the owners now say it has not met a team selected to steer the bank back to life.

“(We) have formed a steering committee comprising leading Kenyan banking, legal and finance professionals to guide the reopening process who are yet to be engaged by CBK or the KDIC,” the shareholders said in a press statement on Wednesday.

ACCESS TO FUNDS LOCKED IN BANK

The see-saw is bound to pinch depositors even harder as they continue to lack access to their funds, which have been stuck in the bank for over two months.

Customers such as George Omondi and 50,000 others who had hoped to access their money are in the dark.

“They (Imperial Bank officials) sent us an email last week of the CBK notice on the delay, otherwise we don’t know the progress,” Mr Omondi said on telephone.

Last week, CBK blamed shareholders for delays, saying they were dragging their feet putting in money to recapitalise the bank.

“The CBK notes with concern the delay by shareholders to provide adequate assurances for the implementation of this proposal, and urges a quick resolution of this matter,” the regulator said in a statement on November 14.

The owners, however, dispute this, saying they have decided to come out publicly, inviting depositors into talks even though they had agreed to keep the negotiations secret.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION