It is a common pre-conception in the British Criminal Justice something is amiss or illegal because concepts such as Community Savings Schemes, such as Kameti (Committee), Asue, Susu, Kitty are not culturally understood, or a practice adopted in the UK.
For centuries, groups of people across the world, have saved and borrowed between themselves. Informal Loan Schemes are one of the systems used to facilitate this process. Yet, an understanding of what an Informal Loan Scheme is and how it works is lacking by many.
There are many different versions of the scheme both internationally and culturally. Each Informal Loan Scheme is unregulated and there are no written rules. The concept is the same, to allow members to save and borrow within a trusted group without the need of having to pay interest. Each of the members of the group have their own purpose for wanting to be part of the scheme. It is most often used by immigrants, who have not developed solid credit ratings in the UK and would therefore not be eligible for regulated national loans. The purpose may be for the saving of life events such as weddings, new-borns, funerals, and purchase of large items, including deposits on houses and cars.
A Kameti (also known as Committee) is a group of trusted members, often from the same religion, cultural background or neighbourhood. Each member agrees to contribute a fixed amount of money over a fixed period of time. This may be daily, weekly, or monthly. The total amount of money contributed, and the withdrawal of the funds is determined by each of the members. Members take it in turn to withdraw the total amount of funds they have agreed to contribute. After receiving the funds, the members continue to contribute the agreed amount for the remaining of the agreed period.
The members choose an individual who presides over meetings and collects the monies. Typically, the funds are in cash. The trusted individual manages the money, keeping a record of the contributions and the withdrawals by each member.
The recording of the funds is integral to the smooth running of any scheme, to ensure funds are available when required as determined by the commencement date. The records will generally be, but not limited to, a reference for the member, the date, and amount of contributions and withdrawals.
It has become apparent when representing clients who have been involved in Informal Loan Schemes, that authorities reviewing records are often unaccustomed to the working of the scheme and may wrongly assume the records relate to illegal activity rather than the true purpose of the record. Written notes and records are wrongly interpreted to imply criminality. The same can be said about the collected funds stored by the trusted individual of the scheme.
If you are involved with investigations and/or court proceedings, which relate to an informal community savings scheme, we recommend that you seek specialist advice as soon as practicable to ensure that your circumstances are clarified to any relevant agencies.
Garrick Law instructed Sedulo Forensic Accountants to act for the first defendant dubbed the KingPin in a 38 million pound international shuttle trading conspiracy, where the informal savings scheme required explanation.
Read about this case here: KingPin in a 38 Million pound international Shuttle trading conspiracy.