Blow to Absa Bank as Former Senior Employee Granted Permission to Appeal in Ksh 1.5 billion Case

A former employee of Absa Bank Kenya, Evans Murumba, has been given the nod to appeal the February 25th, 2024 High Court ruling that declined to admit his witness statement where he sought to be enjoined as an interested party in the Ksh 1.5 billion compensation case against the lender.

The Ksh 1.5 billion case filed by transport firm New Mega Africa against Absa Bank Kenya has turned out to be a game of wits between two corporate giants that are flexing their muscles in the corridors of justice.

EXCLUSIVE: CBK, Absa Bank South Africa Launch Major Probe Into Rampant Scandals in Kenyan Branches

New Mega Africa, which is one of the leading transport firms in East Africa, sued Absa Bank over a data breach in regard to a loan facility where the bank is decrying non-payment while the firm is crying out over alleged blackmail, data breach, and sabotage.

New Mega Africa acquired a loan facility in Absa Bank Kenya and experienced business challenges in the midst of the COVID-19 scourge in what would later turn out to be a long-running legal battle with Absa, the lender.

Absa employees are accused of taking advantage of the New Mega Africa case to shift the wheels of their expected professional service delivery for personal gain in the case filed against the bank.

A former employee, Evans Murumba, has become the center of interest in the case, and his witness statement saga appears to be the elephant in the house.

In the latest decision, the court has granted New Mega Africa the decision to file an appeal against its decision to bar the admission of a key witness statement in the proceedings.

New Mega Africa, who sued the bank for data breach and is now claiming compensation, claimed to have been aggrieved by the court’s decision to decline Murumba’s application where he sought to be enjoined as an interested party after being adversely mentioned by both parties.

The Court on May 15th, 2024, accepted the application to appeal but declined a second request to stay the case until the Court of Appeal rules on the Evans Murumba case.

The full hearing failed to take place after the plaintiff, who is New Mega Africa Director David Abai, failed to appear after being confirmed unwell and not capable of participating in the proceedings.

During the proceedings, the court requested them to file a formal application, which they did, and on the 9th of May 2024, the judge claimed that he would not allow the witness statement into the case since the case had already been closed (parties had exchanged witnesses).

The plaintiff, through its lawyers Kirui, Oloo, and Simiyu advocates, argued that the judge doesn’t need to give anyone leave to seek an appeal.

On March 6, New Mega made an application to have Evans’ statement be readmitted as a key witness input, but on the 9th of May, the judge denied Evans the chance to join the case.

The judge made a ruling that he is not going to allow Evans since the parties had already exchanged documents.

At this point, Abai, who is also the main witness, stood down during the hearing.

After that ruling, the New Mega Africa Lawyers made an oral application to allow them to appeal the decision, but the judge insisted that they do a formal application which they did, but the Judge issued an order that the matter should be heard on 3rd of June 2024 and indicated that the hearing should proceed on 15th May 2024.

However, on the same date of the hearing, the plaintiff David Abai was not able to attend the court proceedings since he reported to court that he was sick, thus not able to continue with his witness statement and also requested before the court that the issue of leave to appeal be heard since the law only allows 14 days to make an appeal.

This is what has brought confusion and anxiety to the whole case with the respondents seemingly pushing for the case to be completed before the Court of Appeal decides on the Evans Murumba case.

The full hearing and cross-examination of witnesses is now scheduled for 27th July 2027 before Justice Kizito Magare.

Why Murumba?

Murumba’s presence in the case is deemed important because he served as the coast region head of commercial affairs for Absa bank before resigning.

He was widely mentioned by both the plaintiff and respondents in the case and therefore sought to be enjoined to clear his name.

He filed an application to be enjoined in the case back in December 2023.

“There is inherent risk that the court may proceed with the suit without the applicant/ intended interest party being heard despite being mentioned adversely in the main suit,” the application read.

He claimed that the case may have an effect on his civic and political life.

Murumba was adversely mentioned in a witness account from both Absa bank and New Mega Africa.

The bank through its lawyers has insisted that Murumba’s relevance is minimal, but the former employee has been persistent and will now proceed to the Court of Appeal.

In the case, the firm has accused the bank of sharing its account details with third parties against its wishes and the banking regulations.

Bank employee at the center of the feud

A witness account from the bank blamed Corporate Credit Manager Supporting Business Banking, Wycliffe Makori, for working with other employees to share its details with a Kenya National Highways Authority officer identified as Jared Makori.

Wycliffe Makori is also a witness in the case.

Wycliffe Makori is a witness standing in for the bank and issued affidavits in efforts to delink himself from the accusations.

His communication with Jared revolved around payments being made by Mombasa cement to Absa on behalf of New Mega Africa.

In his affidavit, he partly admits to having a relationship with Jared whom he knew while still at Eco Bank between the years 2011-2015 when Jared was an engineer at Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenya) at that time in the coast region.

Mr. Makori said in the statement that Engineer Makori affirmed his commercial interest in New Mega Limited and was the one that facilitated the contract they had with Mombasa Cement.

He observes that the bank sent the offer letter for the first loan of Ksh Million to engineer Makori to review and approve.

The main witness who laid the basis for the case is David Abai, who accused Wycliffe Makori and other employees, among them Murumba, of having received money in the form of bribes to facilitate the release of applied loans.

The bank through Makori has, on the other hand, insisted that New Mega Africa defaulted on their facilities.

In September 2021, Abai requested to restructure the facilities, and this is where the whole problems between the two entities began.

He wanted to amalgamate all his loans and spread them over 36 months.

Wycliffe Makori was then the head of the credit department at the Nkuruma branch.

Shockingly, reckless Makori confessed to have leaked information from the bank to third parties and no action has ever been taken against him, thus putting the bank at risk with other clients.

Since no action was taken against him, funny enough, he was promoted and made corporate credit analyst handling key corporate clients’ accounts in the coast region, some of these companies are worried a lot for their accounts being handled by Wycliffe Makori.

The court has already heard that Mr. Abai was shocked to learn from his business partners like Jared, who also happened to be a friend of Makori, about his account operations. Makori in one of the statements claims Abai’s account was running into arrears, information that was also in the hands of third parties.

“I was aware that even after the plaintiff acknowledged the said restructuring and promised to start servicing the loan as agreed, the plaintiff’s account again fell in arrears barely one month after the disbursement date.”

In his affidavit, Mr. Abai had told the court that the bank was frustrating his efforts to get financial help from potential business partners by sharing New Mega Africa account information with them.

He told the court a series of events from the time he got into a contract with the bank and how things fell apart between the two parties.

This involved alleged MPESA transactions and this could partly be the reason Murumba has applied to be an interested party.

The money was allegedly sent to the bank’s staff and their relatives as a facilitation fee.

Mr. Abai claimed Absa bank, led by Makori, used sabotage and blackmail tricks by sharing confidential information with third parties and customers who would later share back-printed emails to him detailing the company’s overdrawn accounts.

He reported this to relevant departments and would later notify the Data Protection Unit to follow up the matter and take necessary action.

Property Auction ruling

The battle between the two parties saw the bank being stopped by the court from auctioning New Mega Africa property over unpaid loans that stood at Sh86.4 million.

In the recent hearing that was adjourned, the bank has accused the firm of delaying the case whereas the firm, on the other hand, feels Absa is wrongfully threatened by key witness statements.

The decision by Murumba to appeal his inclusions adds a new twist to it and could trigger conflict between the courts with Absa battling to have the case rushed.

New Mega Africa, on the other hand, could receive a big boost to make big its water-tight case.

Malpractices in Bank Branches

Several bank staff from different Absa branches in Kenya are under strict scrutiny for malpractice allegations that include data leakage, Sex, Corruption, among other issues.

Some of the leading branches include Absa Tower along Loita Street, Mama Ngina Street, Karen Branch, Queensway, Lavington, Nyali, TRM, Nkrumah, and Ngong. Several bank staff normally collude with outsiders to commit crime especially on fraud or internet money transfers.

More dossier loading on clients’ accounts from those branches…


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