Barclays Bank of Kenya employees last year facilitated a Ksh145.9 million theft from their employer, offering a rare glimpse into the state of banking fraud in Kenya.
The amount stolen at Barclays in 2016 more than doubled from the Ksh59 million recorded in 2015, highlighting rising cases of economic crime in corporate Kenya.
Barclays, however, said it recovered Ksh86.7 million from 196 disciplinary cases, adding that the net amount lost to fraudsters was Ksh59.2 million involving 122 claims of theft.
In 2015, Barclays was only able to recover Ksh5.5 million and suffered a Sh53.7 net loss arising from fraud.
“Financial crime and corruption remain a challenge in the financial services sector,” the bank says. “The board and management are fully committed to ensure that the business is not used as a conduit for crime in any way.”
The disclosures are made in Barclays’ latest annual report to comply with the newly enacted Capital Markets Authoriy (CMA) corporate governance code that compels listed firms to report matters beyond financials such as integrity.
Barclays says it has turned to technology to monitor cybercrimes involving the bank’s digital channels.
For example, Barclays sends an SMS alert for all transactions ‘to enable easy tracking of account activity and early detection of fraud.’
Besides, the bank says the rollout of chip-and-PIN cards in Kenya to replace the fraud-prone magnetic strip cards has greatly aided the fight against banking fraud.
Barclays now joins KCB Group as the only lenders in Kenya who reveal staff fraud statistics. Most banks prefer to keep a lid on economic crimes, fearing a public relations backlash and brand damage.
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A study by Deloitte shows that the most prevalent forms of financial crime reported in Kenya are cash theft, cheque fraud, plastic money scams, and electronic funds transfer fraud.
KCB, Kenya’s biggest bank by assets, last week revealed it sacked 31 employees in 2016 due to fraud and professional negligence, compared to the 33 in 2015 and about 90 in 2014. However, the lender declined to say how much was lost through fraud.
Safaricom is the other company that lays bare internal fraud. The listed telecoms operator fired 16 of its employees in the period to March 2016, down from 58 the previous year, and 56 in 2014.