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How CBK officials cashed in on Imperial Bank mess

Imperial Bank head office at westlands.PHOTO:BEVERLYNE MUSILI

A few days to Christmas in 2013, a senior Central Bank staffer sent an email to a senior Imperial Bank official.

It was oozing nothing but profound appreciation for unnamed gift advanced to him by the bank his employer was supervising.

“Thank you so much for the big gift. This will last my family for a while! I am humbled,” Ghati Mutinda, a financial analyst at CBK wrote to IBK’s Chief Finance Officer James Kaburu. He signed out his gratitude in style: “Blessed is the heart that gives, enjoy your festive season.”

Mutinda’s email is the latest among a trove of leaked emails between CBK officials and former officials of the collapsed IBK.

The enormity of Kaburu’s gift to Mutinda may never be known. It may as well be the modest Christmas tokens businesses extend to their clients, only that this time round the roles appeared reversed.

Paul Wanyagi’s request to Kaburu was however more brazen. The CBK acting director of Currency Operations and Branch Administration wanted Kaburu to introduce him to Karen Club management with view to being admitted as a member.

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He fired his email on Boxing Day of 2013 at 4.23pm. For him, the dictum of brevity being the soul of wit appear to be true: “See an introductory letter,” that’s all he wrote.

In the attached introductory letter he drafted for Kaburu, the CBK official was introduced as a diligent, well-disciplined and respectful officer who would bring a wealth of experience to the club.

“He is well known to me since 1994, a fellow ICPAK member and a close friend. I have also had working relations with him in the banking sector for the last 10 years,” the letter prepared reads.

It looks like Kaburu was well into his Christmas holidays for he only responded to it on December 30, 2013 at 12.55pm. Like every boss running a show, he had to find some fault with the proposed letter.

“I have received your application letter but you can spice it with the other requirements as per the attached document. If possible I would like to drop it today,” reads Kaburu’s reply.

Whether his request veered into an improper conduct between a supervisor and supervisee or whether it was the normal camaraderie among industry players is for investigators to ascertain.

Timothy Kimutai, a risk manager at CBK, fired a series of emails, which imply he was seeking multiple favours from the collapsed bank.

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“Kindly pass the attached letter from Safari Drycleaners Limited dated March 4, 2014 to Mr Janmohamed for his review and further guidance. I will talk to him later on the same,” he wrote on March 27, 2014 to Anne, an IBK employee.

The attached letter, it turns out, was a notice of the company adjusting its dry-cleaning rates on IBL staff uniforms. The contract had been running for four years.

Two days earlier, he had written another email to Kaburu thanking him for “prompt action” when he sought his assistance. From the analysis of the email, Kaburu had helped pay a total of Sh77,100 out of the Sh93,550 the bank owed to the drycleaner.

“From the reconciliation, it was noted that the January 2014 invoice No 619 of Ksh16,450.00 is the only one outstanding. Kindly assist Safari Drycleaners Ltd to facilitate the payment of this invoice,” he signed out.

A year later in 2015, Kimutai wrote another email to Kaburu seeking the formalisation of the relationship between the dry-cleaning firm and the bank. He promised to see Mr Kaburu during his next visit to the bank.

On September 28, 2015, a few weeks before the bank was put on receivership, IBL’s Niketa Gosrani wrote to Kimutai alerting him of “excess over the limit” on his account.

With Sh14.1 million account balance, he had jumped the Sh8 million excess limit by Sh6.1 million. He answered on the same day promising to update the bank on his plans to reduce the exposure.

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The emails and many others are part of documents being investigated following the collapse of IBK. 

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