Kenya to investigate 10 banks on suspicion of handling stolen $99m

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Kenyan authorities will investigate 10 financial institutions suspected of handling funds that were stolen from the government’s National Youth Service (NYS),newsmen reported on Thursday.

Dozens of senior officials and business people have been taken into custody and face charges related to the theft of nearly $100 million from the youth agency.

Reporters named nine commercial banks and a financial co-operative society as the institutions on which the police and central bank investigators are focusing.

The list of lenders included Kenya’s biggest lender by assets, KCB Group, and Standard Chartered’ s Kenyan unit.

George Kinoti, the director of criminal investigations, told newsmen the list published by the newspaper was accurate.

“They will be investigated,” he said, without offering more details.

Lamin Manjang, the chief executive of Standard Chartered Kenya, said: “We are unable to comment on the matter since it is under investigation by the authorized government agencies.”

KCB said in a statement: “This issue is under inquiry by legally mandated investigating authorities and is a subject matter of a court case.”

Other banks named in the list were Stanbic Kenya, Equity Group, Barclays Kenya, Co-op Bank, National Bank, Diamond Trust, Consolidated Bank and Unaitas, a financial co-operative.

Barclays Kenya said it takes governance seriously.

“We are aware of the ongoing investigation at the National Youth Service. The matter is being investigated by the relevant government authorities,” Barclays told Reporters.

“At Barclays Bank of Kenya, we take governance very seriously and to that end, we always co-operate fully with any investigating agencies as called upon.”

The other seven institutions were not immediately available to comment.

Central bank governor Patrick Njoroge said on Tuesday an unspecified number of lenders were under investigation, with the first phase focusing on tracing the recipients of the funds from the NYS and recovering the assets.

News reports that 24 civil servants and business people charged with involvement in the theft of 99 million dollars of public funds have been remanded in prison custody pending a June 4 hearing on their application for bail.

The suspects, who include the public service ministry’s principal secretary, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to magistrate Douglas Ogoti to charges that relate to theft at the government’s NYS .‏

The NYS is a state agency that trains young people and deploys them to work on projects ranging from construction to traffic control.

It is rare for prosecutors to bring such a large group of public officials to court to answer corruption charges.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to stamp out graft when he was first elected in 2013 but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials and ministers.

Reuters