Cytonn lock horns with regulator over payments claim

Edwin Dande, Managing Partner, Cytonn Investments [Elvis Ogina.Standard]

NAIROBI, KENYA: Investment firm Cytonn is on the spot again after fresh complaints emerged of its inability to honour claims amounting to Sh100 million.

In an unfolding legal fight with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), it also emerged that the firm is in breach of investment limits in six of its funds and hadn’t committed to making payments on due obligations.

The matured funds are held in unregulated investment schemes but have since been woven into a court fight between CMA and the Cytonn High Yield Fund (CHYF).

CMA had requested that the CHYF lessen its investments into Cytonn-related projects to 10 per cent of the fund’s total assets under management (AUMs) as per regulations to minimise risks and protect investors.

However, Cytonn moved to court to fight the 10 per cent limit, accusing the regulator of “economic sabotage” even after both parties had agreed on a 25 per cent limit. 

“Besides the numerous complaints amounting to Sh122.8 million from the aggrieved investors in the CHYS and Cytonn Real Estate, the respondent has further received new and fresh complaints amounting to approximately Sh100 million on account of the applicant’s failure to meet contractual obligations owed to the investors,” said CMA Acting Director Marketing Operations Abubakar Hassan Abubakar in a sworn affidavit filed in court on Tuesday.

Last month, CMA said that it had received complaints from 13 investors owed Sh122.8 million.

The investors were part of the Cytonn High Yield Solutions (CHYS) and Cytonn Project Notes (CPNs).

 In a letter to Cytonn annexed in the affidavit, CMA noted that it had raised complaints of new 10 investors owed matured Sh55.5 million to no response.

“For the avoidance of doubt the complaints amounting to Sh55.5 million have already been communicated and the same has not elicited any favourable response to date,” said CMA.

These are also investors in the CHYS and CPN.

Earlier, Cytonn told investors that it had extended maturity dates owing to the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Cytonn said that the CHYS and the CPNs had been impacted with the virus causing a reduction of labour force translating to longer development periods, a slowdown in building approvals, and slowdown in collections from those who have purchased off-plan real estate on installment plans.

In an annexed letter, CMA says it held meetings on investment limits applicable to Cytonn Unit Trust Funds which include the Cytonn Money Market Fund (CMMF) and CHYF, and the investment of these funds tied to CHYS.

It directed that the investments so far made by CMMF and CHYF in the CHYS be paid back to CMMF and CHYF in not less than six months to the letter dated August 17.

CMA wants also CHYS to provide a 120 per cent collateral to cover those investments by September 15, failure to which those investments in CHYS should be written off.