Ecobank on the spot over Sh4bn fraud suit


Thursday December 08 2022


An Ecobank branch in Thika. NMG PHOTO

Ecobank is on the spot over a Sh4 billion fraud case involving an online payment company that had been linked to an international credit card scam syndicate.

The financial institution is facing two lawsuits where it is being accused of conspiring with the foreign company, Kiwipay, and some Kenyans to fraudulently withdraw money belonging to two clients, who are also associated with the company.

In one case, the lender is alleged to have authorised the fraudulent withdrawal of over Sh2.8 billion held in three bank accounts belonging to a woman from the southeast Asian nation of Laos.

READ: Ecobank pays the price for flouting forex regulations

In the case filed by Ms Monthida Rashi, the lender is accused of releasing a sum of $23,452,493 (Sh2,878,793,515) to the New Zealand-based payment solution provider firm Kiwipay Ltd.

The claim by Ms Rashi comes days after another company, Avistia S.R.O Ltd, sued Eco Bank for allowing the release of $13,473,110 (Sh1,653,824,252) from its three accounts by Kiwipay.

Ms Rashi is a director with Paygram Company Limited.

She claims that funds held in accounts owned by her company were debited into accounts of other entities such as Kiwipay PTE and Kiwipay Kenya Ltd without her consent and knowledge.

Court papers indicate that she is a former director and shareholder of Kiwipay Kenya Ltd.

Kiwipay PTE ltd, a firm incorporated in Singapore, offers digital payment services such as QR Code solutions for retail shops, hotels and restaurants by enabling foreign e-wallet solutions such as Alipay, SamsungPay, ApplePay, WeChatPay and more.

The amount in dispute is part of funds that had been frozen by the High Court in March 2021 over allegations of suspected money laundering and credit card fraud.

But upon conclusion of investigations by the Asset Recovery Agency, Kiwipay was cleared and the forfeiture suit was withdrawn on October 26, 2022.

The move followed a finding by investigators that the overseas company was not in money laundering or tax evasion as suspected.

However, Ms Rashi claims that following unfreezing of the bank accounts, Eco Bank authorised transactions of Kiwipay accounts leading to the release of the funds.

She is seeking a refund of $11,134,831 from Eco Bank on behalf of Kiwipay Kenya Ltd, which she claims was withdrawn from her dollar account without her knowledge and consent.

She is also seeking $8,804,831 from Kiwipay PTE Limited and its director French national Gregory Schimdt, her former business partner.

She says the amount was illegally transferred from her accounts to Kiwipay’s by the bank. She is seeking recovery of the money on behalf of Paygram Company Limited.

Further, the firm is demanding a refund of $3,512,831 from Kiwipay Kenya Limited. She alleges that lost the money through eight transactions done between October 28 and November 22, 2022.

ALSO READ: Frenchman blocks Kenyans from unfrozen Sh2.3bn at Ecobank

She claims that on October 28 a sum of $1.8 million was debited as a recovery of chargeback fees and penalties due to Eco bank.

“I am not aware of any sum due to Ecobank from the Kiwipay Kenya Ltd. Despite the request, the bank has failed to provide any reasons to explain or justify such a large amount of money which they debited to the company’s account without any notice,” said Ms Rashi.

Further on November 16, 2022, a sum of $930,000 was moved from Kiwipay Kenya limited to another internal account, “shown as legal fees IFO Kiwipay Kenya limited”.

“I am not aware of any legal fees to be paid to Kiwipay Kenya Limited. There is no credible innocent explanation for this transfer. A demand to Ecobank for an explanation has been ignored,” Ms Rashi states.

The case will be mentioned next week.

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Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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