Five banks used in handling stolen National Youth Service (NYS) funds have failed to convince the Central Bank of Kenya to drop or alter the Sh392.5 million fine imposed in mid September.
CBK said on Friday in a statement that responses by Standard Chartered Bank, Equity Bank, KCB Bank, Co-operative Bank and Diamond Trust Bank Kenya were not watertight to make the regulator alter the penalties.
“CBK has reviewed each bank’s response to the penalty assessment and has concluded that the submissions were not sufficient to alter the findings of the investigations and the penalties assessed.
"Consequently, CBK has levied the penalties as assessed,” said the regulator.
This means that KCB and Equity bank will bear the brunt of the CBK’s unprecedented action.
KCB will pay Sh149.5 million for having handled Sh639 million of the NYS cash, being 17.8 per cent of the Sh3.57 billion illicit cash handled by the five banks.
Equity will pay Sh89.5 million for having handled Sh886 million while Standard Chartered will pay Sh77.5 million on account of having handled Sh1.63 billion.
Cooperative Bank and DTB were fined Sh20 million and Sh56 million respectively.
CBK, however, says it is satisfied by the action plans that the five banks have submitted, promising to address the lapses that led to handling of illicit money.
CBK had asked for the action plans on September 21.
It said that the plans will strengthen the banks’ anti-money laundering and countering of financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) frameworks, even as it said it will put the five banks under watch.
“CBK will monitor the implementation of the Action Plans and notes the strong commitment expressed by the banks to be fully compliant with all aspects of the law,” said the regulator.
The investigations prioritised banks that handled the largest flows.
CBK assessed monetary penalties for each of the five banks in accordance with the extent of the violations pursuant to CBK’s powers under the Banking Act and the Central Bank of Kenya Act.
CBK shared its findings with Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to assess the criminal culpability of the banks.
The bank said in September than an additional set of banks was going to be identified and investigated.
However, no much information about this has been made public.