Is SBM Kenya plotting to cover up Imperial Bank Sh38billion fraud?

From left: Salim Janmohammed, brother former Imperial Bank Group managing Director Abdulmalek Janmohammed in a meeting with SBM Kenya top management official at Le Griener a Pain restaurant in Nairobi

By M&M Team

Fresh information has emerged suggesting that SBM Kenya on its own volition or with external prodding may be scheming for a deeper cover up of the Sh38billion heist that pushed Imperial Bank into receivership.

With slightly less than a month before the last extension of Imperial Bank receivership, spotlight is now turning on how Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) is handling the troubled bank with new fears emerging that it could be using Mauritius banking giant, State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) to cover up for the dirty deals that led to the bank’s collapse.

Last year, this site reported that Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) rejected SBM offer to help rescue Imperial Bank after it was put under receivership. SBM had indicated its interest in taking over Imperial Bank just 13 days after it was placed under receivership. Instead, CBK would a year later reach out to SBM advising it to express interest in acquiring Fidelity Bank which was undergoing liquidity problems.

What many followers of Kenya’s banking industry didn’t know at the time was the fact that the architects of the Imperial Bank fraud were major shareholders at Fidelity Bank.

Essentially, what this means is that by advising SBM to seek to acquire Fidelity Bank, CBK was in fact protecting architects of the Imperial Bank fraud. It wasn’t until February last year a gazette notice revealed that Firoz Haiderali Jessa, one of the conspirators and architects in the Sh38 billion theft, was a shareholder at Fidelity Bank.

Instructively, CBK has not been clean on its dealings with the Imperial Bank fraud and the Fidelity Bank acquisition. A forensic audit and documents presented in court by Imperial Bank shareholders have revealed that CBK officials including former Governor Dr Njuguna Ndung’u helped Janmohammed to orchestrate the fraud and hide it for more than ten years.

Most damaging is the revelation in the court documents that CBK officials in banking supervision department were the main advisors to former Imperial Bank Group managing director on how to hide the fraud in the bank’s books or accounts.

In fact, keen followers of the events in the banking industry feel that by directing SBM to Fidelity Bank, CBK was not only protecting the Jessa family, but it was also trying very late in the day to cover its own tracks in the Sh38 billion fraud.

At a time when depositors are still holding their breathe over the fate of their funds locked in the troubled bank it is emerging that SBM Kenya has been holding secret meetings with people connected to the architects of the fraud at Imperial Bank.

Our sources who are privy to these meetings intimated to this site that the agenda of the meetings is related to the fraud that brought Imperial Bank to its knees.

The most recent of such meetings took place last week at a high end French restaurant between brother to former Imperial Bank Group Managing Director Abdulmalek Janmohammed and a senior official at SBM Kenya formerly Fidelity Bank.

This site has obtained exclusive information from the meeting and can authoritatively report that Salim Janmohammed and SBM Kenya officials, met at Le Grenier a Pain, a restaurant located at Securex Building on  Riverside Drive, Westlands, a stone throw away from a branch of the troubled bank.

Salim was listed as the beneficiary of his late brother’s estate which included properties, investments and cash valued at tens of billions of shillings in Kenya and abroad.

It should be remembered that most of the depositors’ funds stolen from Imperial Bank were transferred to Fidelity Bank where Kass was a general manager at the time.

This site has not established who between the two called the meeting or the contents of the discussions said to have lasted for more than two hours. However, the fact that the meeting happened and that the two gentlemen are seen in the photo carrying bundles of documents is enough to draw the attention of the banking public and specifically the long suffering Imperial Bank depositors.

But there is another reason why the meeting between Salim and SBM Kenya officials is curious to the banking public and particularly to Imperial Bank depositors.

CBK was supposed to have found an investor to rescue the troubled bank before August but it has breached all the deadlines in the recovery process with the fate of the depositors’ funds now hanging in the balance.

In other words, the bank could just be heading to liquidation in which case, the footprints of the perpetrators might just vanish.

With such an eventuality looking certain, the only other route that can be used to nail the perpetrators of the fraud is through SBM Kenya the successor of Fidelity Bank. And this is where the last week’s meeting between Salim and SBM Kenya comes in.

The crucial question to ask is whether the SBM Kenya officials inherited from Fidelity Bank and who are still influential in the new bank can expose the dirty dealings at Fidelity Bank between them on the one hand and the Jessa and Janmohmmed’s families on the other.  Would they push the other two families under the bus without hurting themselves?

It is important to note that the Jessa, Janmohammed and some of the officials inherited from Fidelity Bank by the new bank were very close business partners. For example, during the time that the Imperial bank fraud happened, the Jessa family had unlimited access and support at Fidelity Bank to the point that they could make transactions at the middle of night with the help of the inherited officials.

At the same time, the Janmohammed family felt secure passing their loot from Imperial Bank through Fidelity Bank to local and off shore accounts. And the inherited Fidelity Bank officials were handsomely rewarded for their role in the theft.

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