Standard Chartered Bank fights to recover Sh500m from Singapore

Standard Chartered Bank PHOTO:COURTESY
A bank is fighting to recover Sh540 million it wired to an account in Singapore after the client denied ever giving instructions for the transaction. 

Standard Chartered Bank landed in trouble after Kenya’s Vivo Energy disowned the order that saw the money transferred to Singapore’s Continental Energy Ltd.

The bank obtained orders from the High Court in Nairobi compelling Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko and the Banking Fraud Investigations Unit (BIFU) to release an investigation report on the transaction.

EXAMINERS’ REPORT

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High Court judge John Mativo ordered the investigation report released within 14 days.

The bank is seeking an examiner’s report on handwriting and signatures and all statements of witnesses who were interviewed about the incident that saw Sh540 million wired to Continental Energy Ltd in Singapore, only for it to emerge that the documents used were forged.

The instructions to wire the money had allegedly come from Kenya’s Vivo Energy, but the signatories from the oil company informed the lender that they were not aware of it.

In total, the lender would have lost more than Sh1.2 billion as another set of instructions to wire Sh780 million was sent a week after the first amount was sent.

But Standard Chartered Bank called Vivo Energy signatories to confirm the amount to be wired. The signatories said they were not aware of any transactions.

The judge was told that Vivo wrote to the bank notifying it that they never issued any instructions for a money transfer and the oil company did not have any dealings with either Continental Energy or GTH Investments.

Standard Chartered’s Africa region head of investigations, Mercy Nyawade, filed a complaint with BIFU. Several bank employees were interviewed, but information regarding the investigations was never released.

The ban also sent swift messages to Singapore recalling the money but it could not be done as the money had already been deposited into Continental Energy’s dollar account.

It then emerged Singapore police seized the amount and a case was filed before the Asian’s country’s court as to who was entitled to the money; the lender or the energy firm.

Singapore police also sent its investigations report to Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko. The DPP replied on June 28, 2016, saying the case lacked sufficient evidence for him to prefer any charges of money laundering in Kenya.

SINGAPORE COURT

In the Singapore Court, the energy firm relied on the reply by the Kenyan authorities to claim the money and in January this year, the court ordered that the amount be released.

The bank then filed a suit before the Singapore High Court against Continental Energy to recover the money. The judge heard the documents by the Kenyan authorities were to be produced before the Singapore court.

Tobiko had opposed the bank’s application, saying all the information had been released.

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Standard Chartered BankSingaporeVivo Energy