This week, depositors at the closed Imperial Bank got some welcome news with the announcement that a third payment was going to be paid to them.
This comes after a first payment last December of up to Kshs 1 million per depositor that was paid through KCB and Diamond Trust banks and another one earlier this year of up to Kshs 1.5 million that was paid out by NIC bank.
This third payment is unique in that it targets the remains depositors many of who are believed to be large depositors. After the first payment, the CBK had expressed concern that some depositors had not bothered to claim the funds offered. But assuming that someone has funds of ~Kshs 50 million to Kshs 100 million at the bank, they were unlikely to be elated to received 1 million in the first or second rounds.
This time depositors can access up to 10% of the deposits, so the people above would get Kshs 5 or 10 million – still small, but much better- and depositors have a month to file claims at any NIC bank branches to receive the payments (deadline 31 Jan 2017).
The news also comes after a few days after newspaper stories that revealed the names and evidence of correspondence of CBK officials who may have benefited inappropriately from the largesse of the management of the bank that they were supposed to have supervises.
$1= Kshs 102
There are two or more sides to every story, and there are several at Imperial Bank. This is just one. The Central Bank (CBK) and the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC) have accused the shareholders/non-executive directors of the bank of being negligent in allowing the fraud at the bank estimated at Kshs 34 billion (~$34 million), and collecting dividends from what was a shell institution. The shareholders have fired back in replying affidavits saying they were not party to the fraud and that, among other things:
- Documents they saw as directors (at board meetings). had been doctored by management of the bank (led by the late group managing director).
- CBK officials helped doctor the records for many years during their inspection audits.
- CBK officials received personal favours from Imperial Bank managers.
- CBK staff and Imperial managers conspired to prevent one shareholder from becoming an executive director of the bank, which would have created a second centre of power (other than the GMD) and which might have uncovered the fraud.
- The current CBK governor has made unreasonable demands on shareholders and failed to discipline his officers involved with Imperial – even appointing one of them as a receiver manager after Imperial closed.
Meanwhile, a judge issued a ruling that was interpreted differently and a group of depositors went back to court seeking a clarification of what the judge meant. It has been interpreted to mean:
- Shareholders: The receiver managers (CBK/KDIC) must share information with, and consult, them on decisions affecting the bank.
- Receiver Manager: Liquidation of the Bank can proceed liquidated.
- Depositors: Judge said to pay us 40% of our deposits immediately.
Hearings continue next week.
This morning, the Governor of the Central Bank met with depositors of Chase Bank. He reassured them that, even if the receivership process had been silent, they were his priority and that they were working as fast as they could to reopen the bank and give them full access to their deposits. He said there was a lot of support and goodwill (no one has sued him in this case, as has happened with other banks), and that the numbers at Chase Bank were not mysterious (unlike with other banks). He mentioned that they recovered Kshs 8 billion from directors within two weeks and that they were working to accelerated debt recovery and get non-performing loans performing.
He added that contrary to the perception that the bank should never have been placed under receivership other banks and that this has made investors lose faith in banking in Kenya, he said that other bankers tell him that the sector has gotten stronger, more stable and more credible as they believed it was important to clean up this sector and that laws were followed. He said that other countries were looking at Kenya and emulating actions e.g. Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique.
Phase three of the receivership now commences, and in the next few weeks, they are inviting final expressions of interest to invest in Chase Bank for them to review. They want serious investors who will have the resources (no Mickey-Mouse, or Johnny-come-Lately ones) to support the bank and take it higher even after the receivership is lifted which should be sometime in Q1 2017. He hoped that matter is wrapped up by the time the first anniversary (Chase Bank was placed in receivership on April 6 2016) comes round, and that Chase Bank becomes a case study for bringing a bank out of receivership and sustaining it.
There were lots of question from shareholders, on asking for timelines for full restoration of the bank, payments of any other tranches (no plans for that), that they should get paid interest for the receivership period (he said he’d rather work towards them getting full access to their principal deposits and have any discussion of interest with the new investors).
He thanked KCB and the hard working staff of CBK, and mentioned that a KPMG audit of Chase was still ongoing. He thanked the customers for their support which he said was indicative of their belief in the bank. 13,000 new accounts have been opened since the receivership was lifted and only a tenth of what they expected was withdrawn when the bank was reopened.
On October 20, the Bank of Uganda (BoU – the country’s banking regulator) took over (PDF) the management of Crane Bank and stated that:
- (Crane was( significantly undercapitalised (and) poses a systemic risk to the stability of the financial system (and) .. in its current form detrimental to the interests of its depositors.
- BoU appointed a statutory manager and suspended the Board of Directors of Crane Bank
- Crane Bank will remain open and its operations will continue normally, but under the management and control of BoU.
Crane Bank was started in 1995 and was said to be the fourth largest bank in Uganda. It had 46 branches in Uganda and 2 in Rwanda, where the bank regulator has said that the Crane Rwanda subsidiary licensed in 2014 is solid and will remain unaffected by the closure of the parent in Uganda.
In its 2015 supervision report, the Bank of Uganda made reference to the performance of domestic systemically important banks – Stanbic bank, Standard Chartered bank and Crane bank which accounted for 36% of total banking sector assets. ..there was a decline in asset quality among D-SIBS with NPL ratio rising from 3.5% percent in December 2014 to 7.6% (and) while this reflected the general performance of the banking sector, the decline in quality among DSIBs was also on account of the performance of one bank with a significant exposure to one borrower. All the DSIBs have adequate capital to absorb losses.
Crane Bank is an award-winning indigenous bank in Uganda, and was audited by KPMG. Like Chase Bank in Kenya it was said to be a fast growing, darling of entrepreneurs, paid higher interest rates to depositors, and progressive in its outlook to entrepreneurs and business people – with lot’s of referrals by word of mouth and repeat business from customers.
But one difference from Chase Bank is that while there was the bank was very inactive on social media , Crane had posted only 2 tweets this year even as there was a storm of social media posts leading to the take over last week.
The 2015 annual report of Crane notes that:
- The Bank’s loans & advances reached UGX 1,010.9 Billion against UGX 836.9 Billion in 2014
- Customer Deposits grew from UGX 1,267.5 Billion in 2014 to UGX 1,336.6 Billion in 2015 indicating the growing confidence of our patrons and customers.
- The bank added about 75,000 accounts during the year, pushing the total number of accounts to 499,133 as of December 2015.
- The bank is controlled by Dr Sudhir Ruparelia who controls 48.67% of the voting rights in the bank.. at 31 December 2015 advances to companies controlled by directors or their families amounted to Shs. 1,003 million (2014: Shs 4,639 million). All the above loans were issued at interest rates of 16% (2014: 16%) and were all performing as at 31 December 2015 and 2014.
- The aggregate amount of non performing loans and advances was Ushs 142,358 million (2014 – Ushs 19,362 million).
- As at 31 December 2015, the bank had no exposures to a single borrower or group of borrowers exceeding 25% of its total capital
- (importance in tax collection) The bank maintained its position among top collection agents for UMEME / NWSC and (is) in Ppartnership with URA to do all URA PIN generation and KCCA COIN registration and all URA & KCCA payments. Bill payment is currently enabled through Internet banking.
Other news stories:
- A few months ago, the bank’s principal shareholder spoke with Red Pepper about the impending sale of a stake in the bank.
- The East African has a story on how employee tipoff may have led, government, large and foreign depositors to withdraw huge sums from the bank as talks with suitors like Atlas Mara got more complicated.
$1 = ~UGX 3,414.