DIB Bank Ltd has suffered a blow after the High Court rejected an application seeking to block the police from investigating a customer’s bank account.
Justice Justus Bwonwong’a dismissed the bank’s application stating that the purpose of conducting investigations secretly (without involving the concerned party), is to prevent suspects from escaping or destroying evidence.
The judge also said ex-parte applications protects innocent people from the public knowledge that they are under investigation.
“It is a universal rule that investigations in respect of allegations that offences have been committed are conducted in the absence and without the knowledge of the target or suspect. If disclosures were allowed during the investigation process, it will be prejudicial and destructive to the investigation process,” the judge said.
The judge said the lender cannot claim privilege to avoid being investigated for suspected commission of crimes.
The lender moved to court to challenge the move by a magistrate court, allowing the police to investigate a customer’s bank account.
Police constable Bonface Muli obtained a warrant to investigate the bank account over claims of conspiracy to defraud and forgery over a property charged by the bank.
The police made the application before the magistrate in September last year and were allowed to investigate the books of account but the bank faulted the move saying it would lead to compromise of its duty of confidentiality.
The judge dismissed the application saying the bank cannot claim confidentiality between it and its customers to evade disclosure of the information that is needed by the police in the course of their investigations.
“Additionally, the bank cannot claim any confidentiality once there is an order of the court to carry out the search in respect of the books of accounts of the bank,” the judge said.
The judge said fair trial rights under article 50 of the Constitution of an accused do not come into play during the investigation process and are only applicable when a suspect has been charged in court.