Top banks â Barclays, KCB, Equity, Co-operative and Standard Chartered â saw their forex trading income soar, especially in the last quarter of last year, when the shilling was heavily battered.
Other top forex earners are NIC and CFC Stanbic.
High interest rates and a surge in fees and commissions helped the commercial banks to return healthy profits, as Kenyans struggled with a depressed economy in the last quarter of last year.
KCB was the largest foreign exchange income earner, recording a 30 per cent growth to Sh3.6 billion compared to Sh2.7 billion in 2010. The forex income accounted for nine per cent of KCBâs income.
Barclays was also a high earner, growing forex revenue by 59 per cent to Sh2.58 billion, equivalent to 16 per cent of its income. Equity Bank increased forex earnings to Sh1.9 billion up from Sh0.87 billion in 2010.
When the shilling came down tumbling to hit a low of 107 against the US dollar in October, banks came under spotlight over their alleged role in contributing to the steep decline of the shilling.
Members of Parliament recently claimed that banks borrowed colossal sums of money from the CBK to speculate on the shilling, causing Octoberâs sharp depreciation.
Central Bank blamed
A parliamentary report on the investigation of the fall of the shilling claimed that banks misused the Central Bankâs overnight discount window to rake in Sh29 billion at the height of the shilling crisis.
But industry lobby â Kenya Bankers Association â defended banks saying they earned the income from the high demand for foreign currency from importers.
Co-op Bank, NIC, and Diamond Trust Bank earned Sh1 billion, Sh0.94 billion and Sh0.99 billion respectively while CFC Stanbic bankâs results show that about 17 per cent of its income came from forex exchange income of Sh1.76 billion.