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Turkish national Harun Aydin not our client, says Equity Bank

NATIONAL
By Moses Nyamori | August 26th 2021

Equity Bank Managing Director Gerald Warui before the National Assembly Committee on Finance and National Planning in Nairobi on August 25, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Controversy surrounding Deputy President William Ruto’s ally, Turkish businessman Harun Aydin, took a new twist yesterday when Equity Bank denied loaning him or any of his companies Sh15 billion.

Top managers declared the Turkish national — who was said to have been part delegation in the DP’s aborted trip to Uganda — a stranger to the bank.

The bank revealed that it can only loan maximum of Sh2.5 billion, putting to question Ruto’s remarks that he helped an investor borrow Sh15 billion to set up a project in Uganda.

Gerald Warui, the Equity Bank managing director, Christine Browne, the legal affairs director and Samuel Gitwekere, the group’s chief risk and compliance officer, told the National Assembly Finance and National Planning Committee that Aydin has never operated an account with the bank.

“Aydin has never been an account holder, has never had any relationship with us either directly or indirectly or through Dei Group Ltd. He is a stranger to the bank; he is unknown to us,” said Browne.

Equity, however, admitted financing Dei Group Ltd to expand its pharmaceutical, biotech and research plant but denied advancing Sh15 billion to any of its clients.

The bank also clarified that it has been in business with the pharmaceutical company since 2014. Ruto recently said that two years ago, he helped an investor — that he did not name — to acquire Sh15 billion from the bank.

“The investor of that factory came to this office and sat on the same seat where you are seated two years ago and asked if I could connect them with Equity Bank,” DP Ruto told Inooro FM. “I picked up the phone, called Equity and told them that ‘there is an investor in my office and because you have a branch in Uganda; can you help him set up the business he wants?’ So, when the individual succeeded and got Sh15 billion loan and proceeded to put up the company, where is the problem if I am invited for the launch.”

Committee chair Gladys Wanga, who is also Homa Bay Woman Rep, pressed the bank managers to come clean on claims that certain individuals were trying to use it for money laundering.

“We leave here a very concerned lot because Kenyans are now saying that Equity is giving people big money but nothing for the common people who are the majority depositors,” she said.

The MPs pushed the officials to clarify on the disclosure by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni that bank accounts of the Dei Group Ltd had been frozen by the country’s authority over suspicion of money laundering.

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