24 April 2019

East Africa: EACJ to Rule On Case Facing the Central Bank of Kenya

Arusha — The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) will decide on a case filed against the regulator over the collapsed Imperial Bank Limited in Kenya.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) had been sued at the regional court over alleged losses incurred for taking over the control of the bank in 2015.

The suit was filed by Pontrilas Investment Limited on behalf of the troubled financial institution, claiming that the central bank had failed its duty before closing it.

These, according to the applicant, included failure by the bank to act against the alleged massive fraud by officials of the collapsed bank.

The applicant further claimed that the illegal transactions, which came to their knowledge in August 2017, took place with connivance of CBK officials or agents.

However, a legal counsel for the central bank, Mr James Ochieng, contested the suit, arguing that CBK was not an institution of the East African Community (EAC).

"It is not an institution of the community established under the treaty to be sued, but rather a body under the government of Kenya," he said.

"It is only the Attorney General of Kenya who can appear before the court for any wrongdoing committed by CBK," he added.

Mr Ochieng further submitted that the EACJ does not have the jurisdiction to entertain cases against CBK "since those matters can only be handled in the Judiciary of Kenya".

He, therefore, asked the court to allow the preliminary objection of the case with costs.

But Prof Fredrick Ssempebwa on behalf of the applicants said under the EAC Monetary Union Protocol, CBK was "conceptually and functionally" an institution of the community.

He said the protocol gives a pivotal role to the partner states' central banks in the implementation of the said pact.

The court will deliver the ruling on the preliminary objection before scheduling the hearing of the main case.

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