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5 Kenyan banks fingered in looting of public funds

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5 Kenyan banks fingered in looting of public funds

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has slapped hefty fines on five top banks that are alleged to have been involved in the transactions of the second phase of the National Youth Service scandal.

Investigations by CBK revealed that the five banks were used by persons suspected of transacting illegally acquired NYS funds using the financial institutions.

The five banks, which were fined a total of Ksh.394 million include; Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Diamond Trust and Cooperative Bank of Kenya.

Of the total amount, KCB will pay the highest monetary penalty of Ksh.149.5 million followed by Equity Bank which has been hit with a fine of Ksh.89.5 million and Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Ltd, whose penalty is Ksh.77.5 million.

Diamond Trust Bank and Co-operative Bank of Kenya have been fined Ksh.56 million and Ksh.20 million respectively.

Read also: Nigeria may be headed for another recession as economy slows in Q2 2018

A statement issued by the Central Bank on Wednesday indicates that over Ksh.3.6 billion was wired through the five banks with the largest flow of Ksh.1.6 billion having been channeled through Standard Chartered Bank.

Equity bank and KCB are reported to have handled Ksh.886 million and Ksh.639 million respectively while Diamond Trust Bank is said to have facilitated Ksh.162 million from the NYS loot.

Some of the violations include failure to report large cash transactions, failure to undertake adequate customer due diligence, lack of supporting documentation for large transactions, and lapses in the reporting of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) to the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC).

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Kenya climbs to 4th position in global flower exports, earns over $800 in 2017

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Red Lands Roses in Kenya produces some of the boldest shades of roses, from a glossy red to a bright yellow and even a vivid pink. Every single bundle of flowers is carefully prepared for export to several countries, with China being one of their biggest markets.

This flower farm is just one of many in Kenya, which is the fourth largest exporter of cut flowers in the world. In fact, Kenya’s floriculture industry earned more than $800 million in 2017.

“On a daily basis we export 36,000 tons from this country,” said Clement Tulezi, the CEO of Kenya Flower Council. “So we are moving into a place where we want to market ourselves better, we want to brand ourselves better as a country, and also brand the Kenyan flower.”

And now, Kenya’s fragrant beauties are finding their way to farther shores.

“We are doing Beijing, we are doing Shanghai, and we are doing Guangzhou,” said Irene Nkatha, the sales manager of Red Lands Roses. “We started with one shipment per week, now we are doing two to three shipments per week. The distance is short. It’s only one day to go to Guangzhou, it’s only two days to go to Beijing.”

Read also: In spite of depression woes, S’Africa’s banking system gets stable outlook

One of the main companies Red Lands Roses exports to is Jiuye Supply Chain in Guangzhou.

“We chose to introduce flowers from Kenya to China because of the vast number of varieties they grow, including some that you can’t find in other regions,” said Qi Bo, the director of Jiuye Supply Chain’s flower department.

The length of Kenya’s flower vase life is also an attractive quality for many.

“When you export like a stem today, it will take 14 days to 21 days in vase,” Nkatha said.

Qi Bo said there is a 25 percent yearly increase in demand for flowers from Kenya in China, and the company expects to double its imports to five million in 2018.

“In 2017, we imported 2.5 million flowers from Kenya,” he added. “Kenya has advanced breeding and planting skills as well as the cool-chain storage and transport technologies, which China is lacking.”

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Scandal-ridden Finance Minister seeks exit from Ramaphosa’s cabinet; Rand tumbles

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South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove him after he admitted to visiting the home of the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former leader Jacob Zuma, Business Day said on Monday, sending the rand lower.

Nene has become a divisive figure after testimony he gave at an inquiry into allegations of corruption by the Guptas, in which he admitted to the previously undisclosed visits. He made a public apology about the matter on Friday.

Zuma and the Guptas, who face numerous allegations of using their friendship for mutual self-enrichment, have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Business Day cited unidentified government sources as saying that Nene made the request to Ramaphosa at the weekend. Nene did not answer calls for comment.

“Government sources said Nene approached Ramaphosa after the highly negative public reaction to his apology to South Africans on Friday for the meetings with the Gupta family when he served under Zuma,” the South African newspaper said.

It said the issue was likely to be raised at a meeting of the ruling African National Congress party later on Monday.

The rand fell more than one percent on the report.

Nene is a key ally of Ramaphosa, who reappointed him finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle shortly after he became president earlier this year.

Ramaphosa has made clean governance and the kick-starting of an economy mired in recession top priorities.

Several ministers and government officials have been implicated in the widening graft scandals around the Guptas.

One common theme that has emerged is visits to the family’s sprawling Johannesburg property, which is why there has been public anger regarding Nene’s revelations.

Read also: Botswana seeks to escape middle income trap

Nene has also been praised by commentators for standing up to Zuma.

He told the inquiry he was fired by Zuma in December 2015 for blocking deals that would have benefited the Guptas, particularly a $100 billion nuclear power deal with Russia that could have crippled Africa’s most developed economy.

But Nene’s opponents say he was involved in corrupt deals with the Guptas when he was deputy finance minister and head of the state pension fund. He denies ever helping the Guptas.

Opposition parties have called for his resignation.

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Mobile money overtakes cash in Somalia

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Mobile money overtakes cash in Somalia

By Margaret Njugunah

Approximately 155 million mobile money transactions worth US$2.7 billion are conducted in Somalia every month, making it one of the most active mobile money markets in the world.

According to a World Bank finding, mobile money has superseded the use of cash in the country, with over 70 percent of adult Somalis using mobile money services regularly.

Somalia outpaces most African countries in the market, despite its fragility and underdeveloped financial institutions.

Lead ICT policy specialist at the World Bank Tim Kelly says private sector actors have given Somalia a unique opportunity to leapfrog towards widespread financial inclusion.

Read also: Paystack secures $8 million Series A funding round

“World Bank will continue to support the partnership between the Central Bank of Somalia, the National Communications Authority and the key private sector actors as they deliberate on an appropriate regulatory framework for the sector,” Kelly said.

The country, however, lacks robust consumer protection and know-your-customer requirements.

The challenge for policymakers and regulators is how to mitigate system vulnerabilities and avoid macroeconomic effects in the event of service disruptions.

“Reducing costs and promoting greater stability is a top priority for the overall development agenda for the financial sector, ensuring that regulation does not stifle innovation by leveling the playing field is a very close second,” said Thilasoni Musuku, Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice.

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