Ex-CEO of Tanzania's Bank M charged with fraud, money laundering

DAR ES SALAAM, March 7 (Reuters) - The former chief executive officer of Tanzania’s Bank M was charged with fraud and money laundering on Thursday, two months after the central bank revoked the bank’s licence.

Sanjeev Kumar, who denied the charges at a court in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, was sent to a remand prison as suspects in money laundering cases are not entitled to bail.

Tanzania’s central bank took over the management of Bank M, which had assets of nearly $500 million last August after it suffered critical liquidity challenges, before transferring them to another bank, Azania, in January.

Kumar, 63, who was also one of the shareholders of Bank M, was charged with multiple counts of fraud, obtaining money by false pretence and money laundering, court documents showed.

Tanzania’s financial services sector, which is dominated by lenders like CRDB Bank and NMB Bank, has been hit by a spike in bad loans.

In December, the International Monetary Fund said nearly half of Tanzania’s 45 banks were vulnerable to adverse shocks and risked insolvency in the event of a global financial crisis. (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala Editing by Alexander Smith)