The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) placed Yetu Microfinance Bank Plc (Yetu bank) into statutory administration on December 12, 2022, in accordance with Section 56(1)(g)(iii) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act of 2006. As a result, the BoT suspended Yetu’s normal business operations for 90 days, until March 12, 2023. However, on March 13, 2023, the BoT extended the administration term for another 30 days, to April 12, 2023.

This Brief answers three key questions relating to these actions;

Why take a bank under statutory administration?

Section 4 of the Banking and Financial Institutors Act establishes the BoT as the supervisor and regulator of financial institutions in the country. The primary objective of supervision and regulation of financial institutions is, as provided by Section 5 of the Banking and Financial Institution Act, to “maintain the stability, safety and soundness of the financial system and to reduce the risk of loss to depositors.” One of the tools the BoT uses in its regulatory activities is to ensure that banks and financial institutions maintain the minimum prescribed capital and liquidity ratios. If a bank fails to meet these ratios, and if it “operates in violation of any law or regulation or is engaging in any unsafe or unsound practice that is likely to cause insolvency or substantial dissipation of assets or serious prejudice to the interests of depositors or the Deposit Insurance Fund”, the BoT may put it under statutory administration.

What happens when a bank is under statutory administration?

Sections 57&58 of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act provide the answer. In short, the BoT will take over the administration [management] of the bank. The law gives the BoT total control in determining the bank’s operations, including how to deal with its assets and pending liabilities. During this time BoT will take inventory of the bank’s assets and liabilities, evaluate the bank’s share structure and management, and determine an appropriate resolution plan for the said bank. This resolution will determine the most viable steps to be taken on the matter.

What are the outcomes of the administration procedure?

The intention of putting a bank under administration is to avoid damages that the public may suffer if that bank collapses. The BoT, therefore, is mandated by the law to consider an efficient solution in running the said bank. The solution may include, as provided for under Section 59(4) of the Act, reorganization, restructuring, liquidation, or a combination of these alternatives. It is also at this point that the BoT may receive offers from other financial institutions that are desirous of acquiring assets of the bank under administration. If this option is taken, then BoT must ensure “adequate competition, fair and consistent treatment of offerors seeking to acquire assets of the bank or financial institution in question.”

As already pointed out, the overarching purpose of administration procedures is to protect the interests of depositors and, as a result, to “maintain the stability, safety and soundness of the financial system.” Thus, the final resolution of administration procedures will depend on the BoT’s analysis. We have seen in practise some administration procedures leading to liquidation under the Depositor’s Insurance Board while others lead to mergers with other financial institutions. As for Yetu, we can only wait to see what the BoT decides. Our guess is that its assets might be acquired by existing commercial banks. Time will tell.

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