Equity seeks fraud busters to counter loss of client deposits

Equity CEO James Mwangi on January 7, 2024.

Photo credit: Photo | Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Equity Group is hiring top fraud busters barely a month after losing millions of shillings to fraudsters, pointing to the move by Kenya’s most profitable lender to bolster its anti-scam squad.

The lender, which recently raided the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for talent to strengthen its internal controls, is taking a step further with the fresh hiring of at least eight key people to beef up its fraud detection and prevention team.

The hires lined up include two group senior fraud managers and a senior manager for security governance and technical government, all of whom will work with the fraud risk management director in monitoring and responding to related risks.

Equity Group chief executive James Mwangi said the intention is to match the group’s risk control with the increased size of the lender because “anything small that happens hurts the reputation” of the brand.

“We have created [one of the strongest] brands on earth. Our internal control environment must match that. It has been embarrassing seeing our customers being social-engineered and losing money,” said Mr Mwangi during last week’s investor briefing.

Mid last month, the lender suffered theft of Sh179.68 million by 551 account holders who received and fraudulently transacted the money in seven days.

The lender’s risk department said it had detected an upsurge in transactions from the bank’s incoming MasterCard general ledger. The money was fraudulently paid out of MasterCard to the 551 accounts and then transferred to 11 banks and several M-Pesa accounts.

Equity wants to hire a group senior fraud manager for payments and another senior fraud manager in charge of insurance and investment. It is also searching for a senior manager for security, governance and technical assurance, a lead for the security technology roadmap map and a fraud risk analyst.

Other positions related to risk management include analyst for awareness, enterprise reporting and analytics, product security architect for commercial, fintech, and digital initiatives, vendor management officer and an enterprise resource planning support analyst.

The planned hiring will add to two recent ones in which Equity employed a group chief finance officer and chief internal auditor.

Equity has tapped Moses Nyabanda from PwC Rwanda, where he was the managing partner, to become the group chief finance officer—the first time Equity is creating this position.

The lender also tapped Beth Githinji from the CBK where she had served as the adviser to the governor and the director for internal audit and risk management. She joined Equity in February this year as the chief internal auditor.

“We have realised that it is one thing to reach the top and it is another to remain at the very top .... We don’t believe our risk control environment is at that level and that is what we are strengthening,” said Mr Mwangi.

Equity will be receiving applications for the new positions up to May 27. The group senior fraud manager for payments will, among other responsibilities, review fraud risk assessments for both existing and new payment products and services while ensuring anti-fraud controls are evaluated across the group.

“Collaborating closely with subsidiary heads of risk and fraud management, the incumbent is tasked with ensuring the continuous identification, assessment, and evaluation of payment fraud risks, followed by their proficient mitigation,” reads the job description.

The senior fraud manager for insurance and investment will be required to have in-depth knowledge of insurance and investment fraud risks and the techniques for detecting and countering such risks. The senior fraud manager for credit will ensure anti-fraud controls during lending.

Equity’s senior manager for security, governance and technical assurance will among other roles, “analyse known and emerging threats” to determine risks against the group’s operations.

The senior manager for security will work with the lead for the security technology roadmap, who will be tasked with assessing the capabilities of the group’s cyber security and emerging technologies and deliver a three-year plan to address gaps.

Equity has also opened the search for a fraud risk analyst to use advanced analytics and data mining techniques to “identify patterns and anomalies indicative of fraudulent activity across the various business and operational units.”

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