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Absa Bank of Kenya Suspended from Forex Trading by Central Bank for Engaging in Money Laundering

Jeremy Awori, Absa Kenya Managing Director explains features of the new vertical Absa credit and debit cards to Sheila Momanyi, Manager Sarit Centre branch.[Photo/Courtesy]

Absa Bank Kenya Plc, formerly Barclays Bank Kenya Limited, has been suspended from Forex trading for seven days, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said on Thursday.

In a statement, CBK said Absa bank had flouted anti-money laundering rules after its management failed to provide information about some specific foreign exchange trades that it conducted in March 2020.

“In investigating these and other earlier transactions it is evident that Absa Kenya did not have satisfactory assurance of the underlying commercial transactions supporting these trades, as is required, nor did the bank ensure the standard checks on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) and know-your-customer (KYC) requirements were applied, ” the statement reads.

Read: CBK To Use Ksh40 Billion To Buy Dollars From Commercial Banks

During the suspension period that ends on Wednesday, April 15, the financial regulator said, Absa Kenya cannot transact, inter alia, in the interbank foreign exchange market.

However, all committed transactions as at April 8, 2020, can be settled.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge directed the bank to put in place a robust framework that ensures all relevant documents for such foreign exchange transactions are available as required, and also ensures the AML/CFT and KYC requirements are adhered to by the end of the seven days.

Read Also: Barclays Africa Rebranding To ABSA After Separating From UK Barclays

Absa has also been ordered to reverse the market positions that were created as a result of the flagged transactions.

Barclay bank rebranded into the warm red Absa colours in February this year into what was termed as “A True African Brand'”. It has been accused of money laundering and some customers say the transformation was a red flag to exit.

In March 2019, Ksh2 billion in what detectives termed as fake currency was nabbed in a safe at Barclays Bank Queens Way Branch, Nairobi. The bank said a customer identified as Eric Adede held a “personal safe deposit box”. The case is ongoing.

Through the CBK Act, the Central Bank is charged with the role of promoting financial stability through regulation, supervision and licensing of financial institutions under its mandate.

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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege


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