Business

Murgor Threatens To Sue NCBA Bank For Listing Him On CRB Over A Sh1,300 Fuliza Loan

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Philip Murgor, one of the country’s senior-most lawyers, has threatened to sue the Kenyatta family-associated NCBA Bank for erroneously listing him as a loan defaulter over a disputed Sh1,300 Fuliza loan.

Mr Murgor, one of the few advocates that hold the rank of senior counsel, has accused NCBA of failing to verify the information before erroneously listing him with credit reference bureaus as a loan defaulter.

The negative listing, he adds, hampered his attempts to seek financing for insurance intended for his law firm, Murgor & Murgor Advocates.

NCBA listed Mr Murgor with credit reference bureaus on May 7, 2021, after its records showed that a mobile phone number registered with the prominent lawyer’s identity card had defaulted on the Fuliza loan.

The phone number at the heart of the Sh1,300 loan dispute was, according to NCBA, registered using Mr Murgor’s identification documents, but Mr Murgor says the line is in another individual’s name.

NCBA, however, claims that at the time the Fuliza loan was disbursed, the phone number was registered in Mr Murgor’s name.

Fuliza is an overdraft offered by NCBA, KCB Bank and Safaricom, which allows subscribers to complete financial transactions from their mobile phone wallets, even with an insufficient balance.

On September 23, 2022, Mr Murgor was seeking Sh403,000 in financing from NCBA to pay for insurance premiums for his law firm, but the application was rejected on account of the Fuliza loan.

An NCBA agent called Mr Murgor to say that the loan application could not be processed until the Sh1,300 debt was repaid in full. She did not reveal which institution had listed Mr Murgor negatively despite the lawyer’s request for more information on the disputed debt.

Mr Murgor asked to speak to her superior.

Her superior called Mr Murgor on September 28 but also refused to reveal which institution had done the listing.

Credit report

Mr Murgor applied for a credit report from Metropol Corporation Limited, which showed that it was NCBA that had listed him negatively over the Sh1,300 overdraft that he never took.

Two days later, NCBA asked credit reference bureaus to remove Mr Murgor’s negative listing. By then, he had been in the CRB bad books for 17 months.

On the same day, an NCBA branch manager sent an email to Mr Murgor showing that the bank was the listing institution. This, he says, is evidence that the other two agents that called also knew that it was their employer that had listed Mr Murgor but intentionally refused to reveal the information.

Mr Murgor has threatened legal action against NCBA, faulting the lender for failing to verify whether he had indeed borrowed money through Fuliza.

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“NCBA at all material times failed to exercise reasonable skill and care before forwarding the false reports about our client for publication and general circulation, as it took no steps to ascertain whether or not our client had indeed opened, or operated a Fuliza overdraft account … A preliminary and even casual enquiry would have confirmed that our client was not the legitimate owner of mobile number (withheld), and that he has not obtained a Fuliza overdraft facility under the said mobile number,” Mr Murgor says in his letter to NCBA.

NCBA in its response to Mr Murgor’s demand letter claims to have listed the prominent lawyer based on information at its disposal.

The lender holds that the subscriber who took the Fuliza overdraft had registered her phone number using Mr Murgor’s identity card.

NCBA holds that despite Mr Murgor’s law firm being one of its clients, it only communicates default notices to the phone number that borrowed the funds.

The lawyer has, in his demand, argued that NCBA failed to verify whether he had indeed registered the phone number that took the defaulted overdraft.

“The defence of honest mistake, or being victims of identity fraud by third parties, is not available to NCBA as it did not issue the mandatory 30-day notice to our client as required under regulation 26 of the Credit Reference Bureau Regulations 2020,” Mr Murgor adds.

NCBA insists that it followed the terms and conditions that subscribers agree to when registering for the Fuliza service.

Interestingly, the terms and conditions allow NCBA, KCB and Safaricom to recover any defaulted loans from any other accounts that subscribers may have with any of the three firms.

Investigation

NCBA says in its response that following Mr Murgor’s complaints, it investigated the issue and then directed credit reference bureaus to remove the negative listing.

The lender, however, denies any wrongdoing in erroneously listing Mr Murgor as a loan defaulter.

Read: Is your mobile banking app enabling your bad money habits?

“The report was based on the nature of mobile loan applications where the loan is given to a registered mobile number. The allegation that the bank sent false and defamatory reports is therefore misinformed and untrue. Upon being notified by your client … the bank directed the bureaus to delete the negative information, a fact that has been admitted in your letter,” NCBA’s Fridah Musau says.

“The inconvenience caused to your client is highly regrettable. However, in light of the foregoing, we regret to advise that your client’s claim cannot be admitted and is hereby denied,” Ms Musau adds.

NCBA says it sent several notifications of default to the phone number that took the Fuliza overdraft.

Mr Murgor has, however, in his demand letter said that he never registered the number that took the loan.


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