Sacco fraud unit spoils pyramid schemes’ party

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya during the launch of Bt cotton seeds at the ministry’s office in Nairobi on November 6, 2020.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Kenya has formed the Sacco Fraud Investigation Unit to police the sector that has been marred by fraudulent deals and embezzlement.

Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said the unit, which is under Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (Sasra), has so far finalised an investigation, instigated arrest and prosecution of a case where Sh1.3 million that had been embezzled was recovered.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 directed State Department of Cooperative, which is under CS Munya, to form an investigative fraud unit to check a sector.

“I am happy to report that the fraud unit has been established and fully operational. The unit is staffed by specialised officers seconded from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and is functionally supported by Sasra technical staff,” said Mr Munya.

He said more investigations are underway and that the fraud unit has disrupted operations of a pyramid scheme-like entity, which was defrauding the public of their savings by falsely posing as a sacco.

“Fraudsters and fraudulent schemes normally styled as saccos are, therefore, put on notice that the government will soon catch up with them,” warned the CS.

He cautioned wananchi to desist from dealing with unregulated and unsupervised entities and advised them to undertake due diligence on any entity purporting to be a sacco before saving with them. Non-deposit taking saccos currently holding members’ deposits amounting to Sh100 million and above will now be regulated by Sasra under the new regulations aimed at streamlining the sector.

This follows the publication of the Sacco Societies (Non-Deposit Taking Business) Regulations, 2020, which took effect on January 1, 2021.

Sasra chairman John Munuve said non-deposit taking saccos are expected to comply by applying to the authority within six months of the Regulations 2020 for authorisation to operate.

He said bringing these entities under the regulatory oversight of Sasra will extend the benefits of regulated savings and loan services to more Kenyans, while improving the stability and resilience of the sub-sector.