Imperial Bank clients cry foul

By: BRIAN NGUGI

Imperial Bank customers are a frustrated lot following delays in accessing their deposits, weeks after the Central Bank promised a swift resolution of the matter.

On October 28, Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge said depositors of the troubled bank who have amounts less than Sh500,000, would access them within a month.

It was expected that large customers at the bank, which is under the management of the regulator, would also have access to about 5 per cent of their funds after the reopening, while the balance would be released in a staggered manner over a two-year period.

“We are in the dark about everything that is going on, whereas the relevant authorities are not forthright with information,” said Mr Ian Nyoro, one of the bank’s customers.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, however, appealed for calm, saying the process of restitution is ongoing and would be completed soon.

“It is not stalled. The CBK has been meeting and continues to meet with shareholders and depositors to come up with a viable strategy that will lead to reopening of the bank on a sustainable basis.

The governor has been providing updates on the same and very soon the way forward will be provided,” Mr Rotich told the Nation by phone.

About two thirds of the collapsed bank’s 53,000 customers were small depositors. Imperial Bank held Sh58 billion in customer deposits as at the end of June.

Last month, the CBK said that it envisages full access to deposits for small customers and a structured schedule of repayment to the large depositors.

INFUSION OF CAPITAL

At the time the regulator announced that its representatives and shareholders had agreed on a proposal that will enable reopening of the bank within a month.

“The proposal will require the injection of new capital, conversion of some of the large deposits to equity, recovery and collateralisation of the fraudulent loans, as well as a change of board of directors and senior management,” the CBK said then.

It also emerged then that bond holders of Imperial Bank have their money ring-fenced in what came as a relief to many, with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) expected to give advice on the way forward.

The CMA is yet to give a position on the matter to date.

The bank, which was founded as Imperial Finance and Securities Company Ltd and started operations as a financial institution in 1992, has 28 branches in Kenya and five in Uganda.

Following its fall into receivership, it was expected that the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC), in conjunction with CBK, would devise the appropriate course of action.

KDIC acting chief executive Aggrey Bett refused to comment on the progress.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION