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StanChart gets more time to file evidence in illegal charges suit

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A StanChart bank branch in Nairobi. PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Justice David Majanja extended the time after the two instutions said the exercise of retrieving the documents is time consuming as the required records date back to 1989.
  • The case started in 2003 after a customer of Standard Chartered Bank, Rose Florence Wanjiru, sought a refund in form of interest which was charged on her account without the approval of the Finance Minister.

A court has granted the Standard Chartered Bank #ticker:SCBK and the Central Bank of Kenya 45 more days to retrieve and file records of hundreds of account holders who are seeking a refund of interest charges imposed illegally by the lender three decades ago.

Justice David Majanja extended the time after the two instutions said the exercise of retrieving the documents is time consuming as the required records date back to 1989.

The case started in 2003 after a customer of Standard Chartered Bank, Rose Florence Wanjiru, sought a refund in form of interest which was charged on her account without the approval of the Finance Minister as it was required by section 44 of the Banking Act.

She filed the case on her own behalf and on behalf of all the present, future and past customers (account holders) of 43 different commercial banks for the period from November 1, 1989.

The case is against all banks under the umbrella of Kenya Bankers Association, against her bank (Standard Chartered Bank (Kenya) Limited and the Central Bank of Kenya.

She claimed that her bank and the others had illegally charged ledger fees of Sh100 per month and fees for ATM withdrawals against the customers' accounts without authority of the Finance Minister.

Court papers indicate that almost 20 million customers (account holders) of the member-banks of the Kenya Bankers Association are affected.

This means the compensation could be excess of Sh2 billion.

Later in 2015 a group of other 187 people joined the case after KBA lost an attempt to have the suit struck out on grounds that Ms Wanjiru had filed the claim on behalf of unidentifiable group of people and without their authourity.

The customers, who include borrowers, also want to reverse the alleged wrongs which were committed by the banks and a declaration that all illegal levies charged are refundable to customers.

Against the Central Bank of Kenya, they want court to find that it failed in its duty to regulate charges levied by the financial institutions.

Justice Majanja took over the case Thursday following the promotion of Justice Francis Tuiyott to the Court of Appeal.

Judge Majanja heard that on May 24, 2021 Judge Tuiyott had directed the Standard Chartered bank and the CBK to file the documents within 60 days.

But when the case was called yesterday for case management conference, the banks said they had been able to retrieve only 20 percent and they want 45 days to put their house in order.