Bank of Uganda silent amidst customer losses in Equity Bank fraud

BoU currency scam probe extended to regional currency centres
Bank of Uganda (BoU) headquarters in Kampala

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Equity Bank Uganda finds itself under scrutiny once again due to the puzzling disappearance of customer deposits.

Farook Ssekandi, a customer of Equity Bank, has expressed his frustration with the financial institution, accusing it of failing to assist him in recovering the Shs 10 million he believes he lost due to potential internal fraud.

Ssekandi alleges that he deposited Shs 10 million into his account, only to discover that the money had vanished from his account.

In a video that has since gone viral, Ssekandi lamented, “They (Equity Bank) stole my Shs 10 million. I am here begging for my money. There isn’t anyone to help me.”

Expressing his exasperation at the bank, he urged other customers, saying, “They have refused to refund my money. If you have money in Equity Bank, please take it out.”

Equity Bank responded with a statement denying any involvement in or support for fraudulent activities. They emphasized the importance of reporting any loss or issue immediately.

“Whereas we are bound by the client confidentiality rule and therefore cannot disclose customer interactions in the media, we wish to reiterate our message to all our customers that in the event of loss of their phone, they should immediately report to the bank through our 24/7 customer helpline 0312327000,” the bank stated.

“We are engaging and supporting the affected customer as well as working with the relevant authorities to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.” Equity Bank added.

Ssekandi, however, asserted that the bank had not been of any assistance in recovering his lost savings. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the bank’s attempts to resolve the issue.

“They took my money. They have never called me. Now they are taking me in circles,” he said. “They beg us to open accounts only to steal our money.”

This incident highlights Equity Bank’s ongoing struggle to fortify its technology systems against fraud.

Bank of Uganda silent

Bank of Uganda has remained silent on the matter, despite previous pleas from numerous customers for intervention.

Frustrated by the perceived lack of action by Equity Bank, law enforcement agencies, and the regulatory authorities, customers often take to social media to voice their grievances, tarnishing the bank’s reputation.

On social media, a former employee of Equity Bank attributed the high rate of fraud cases to the bank’s low employee compensation, lack of bonuses, and high work pressure.

“It is the bank that pays the lowest salary in the tier 1 banks. They never give out bonuses. They never give salary increments to their employees. The workload is very high and the pressure is uncontrollable,” the former employee, who preferred anonymity to speak freely, observed.

“The managers work with threats and intimidation. In short the employees engage in fraud to make ends meet.”

Several individuals in Uganda expressed their discontent with the bank’s response to the Ssekandi incident and called for greater regulatory oversight and customer protection.

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One wondered how the loss of Ssekandi’s phone was connected to the transfer of his funds from his account.

Brian Kalungi observed: “Financial institutions in Uganda, including digital money platforms, are doing Ugandans dirty. The worst thing is the sheer lack of protection for Ugandans from the Bank of Uganda and Uganda Communications Commission. Regardless of which bank you hold your account in, you’re likely to lose money anytime.”

“But can’t the Bank of Uganda come into this issue? Citizens are losing and it’s like Equity has no regulator.” Kimuli Kizito blasted Bank of Uganda on X (formerly Twitter).