Barclays Bank Kenya #ticker:BBK has put a freeze on new safe deposit boxes services as investigations into Sh2 billion worth of fake dollars found at its Queensway Branch in Nairobi continue.
In a statement Thursday, Barclays Kenya CEO Jeremy Awori said a review of the current safe deposit boxes is also under way following Tuesday’s raid by Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives.
“Whilst we have operated the safe deposit box service in line with local and global regulatory requirements, we recognise the emergence of new financial crime risks associated with the use of this service. Therefore, as an extra precaution, we have taken a decision not to take any new safe deposit boxes,” said Mr Awori.
The discovery of fake currency inside the bank’s vaults raised questions on the lenders’ oversight over the safe deposit boxes.
Another box said to contain fake gold was impounded at the same Barclays branch on Wednesday, also registered under the name of Erick Adede, the main suspect in the scam.
He is accused alongside Mr Ahmed Shah, Ms Irene Wairimu Kimani and Ms Elizabeth Muthoni.
The four suspects, who were presented in court Thursday, were remanded in custody for a further five days to allow detectives to complete their investigations.
The police applied to detain the four for a further 10 days as they seek to crack the case.
Two Barclays staff who were on Tuesday arrested alongside the four have since been released and are assisting in the investigations, Mr Awori said in the statement.
“We have robust processes to ensure that all currency dispensed over our counters and ATMs is genuine and that items held in safe deposit boxes are separate from the bank deposits.”
The bank also called in sniffer dogs experts at its storage vaults to confirm that there is no threat posed by the items contained in the safe deposit boxes.
Banks do not normally check the contents of the boxes, which can only be accessed in the presence of the owners.
They are popular with people looking for safe custody of vital documents or valuables such as jewellery.
Banking regulations, however, criminalise keeping of illegal items such as counterfeit banknotes in a personal safe deposit box.