The Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (Sasra) has vowed to rein in on rogue savings and credit cooperative (Sacco) societies with a view to protecting Kenyans from losing their deposits.
Sasra Chairman John Munuve said the government had given the Sacco regulator the green light to lower its threshold on the registration of Saccos with a view to putting more Saccos on its radar for effective regulation.
He said crooks had taken advantage of the fact that Sasra was only concerned with regulating big Saccos with a capital base of Sh500 million and above to start pyramid schemes in the name of Saccos and fleece gullible Kenyans.
He, however, said the government had given Sasra the green light to lower the bar to register and regulate Saccos with capital bases of as low as Sh100 million.
This, he said, would assist the organization to cast its net wider as it carries out its regulatory mandate and make it possible to protect Kenyans from fraudsters disguising themselves as Saccos.
He cited the recent Ekeza Sacco scandal in which Kenyans are believed to have lost upwards of Sh2 billion.
He said Sasra had not been aware of the Ekeza Sacco because it had not been registered by any government regulatory organ and cautioned Kenyans against involving themselves with unregistered Saccos.
“We have Saccos that are doing extremely well in this country. However, we have noticed lately that a few rogue religious people have come up with Saccos operating behind the pulpit to fleece Kenyans of their hard-earned cash,” he said.
“This question of using the pulpit and enticing people with an increase in their savings through the Holy Spirit or planting seeds will end because we are going to rein in on them. We won’t allow Kenyans to be swindled by pseudo-religious people,” he added.
He said his organization would henceforth be very vigilant, noting that all deposit-taking institutions must be regulated.
“We will also be very vigilant now. Whether you have Sh100 million or not, if you are calling yourself a Sacco and you are taking deposits from Kenyans, you will have to let us know how you are operating and how transparent your transactions are,” he added.
Munuve was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 12th retreat of the boards of directors of Kenya’s financial sector regulators on Thursday.
The boards included those of Sasra, the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA), the Capital Markets Authority, Central Bank of Kenya, the Retirement Benefits Authority and the Financial Assets Authority.
During the retreat, the Director-General in charge of Budget, Fiscal and Economic Affairs at the National Treasury, Dr Geoffrey N. Mwau, who represented Acting National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, officially released the 2018 National Financial Stability Report.
Munuve said Sasra was regulating 176 big saccos under the old regime, but the inclusion of Saccos with a lower capital base would rope in at least 200 Saccos under its watch.
On the threats posed by cyber crooks to Saccos, Munuve said Sasra was vigilant and that so far, no Sacco had lost any money through cybercrime.
“Everybody is being hit by cybercrime, but are more vigilant right now. Every three to four months at least a Sacco is hit by cyber crooks but their actions have always been detected early, hence no Sacco has lost any money,” he said.