Five Imperial Bank branches will open for the first time in nine months today to help process payments for the bank’s large depositors.

The clients whose money is still held up at the bank will be allowed to access a maximum of Sh1.5 million only in the second phase of payouts to depositors of the collapsed lender.

Four of the five branches to be opened are in the Coast region while only one is in Nairobi. The five are Watamu, Diani, Kilifi, Malindi and Parklands branches.

The payments are being managed by NIC Bank which was appointed by receiver manager Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation as asset and liability consultant for Imperial Bank.

Under the deal, NIC Bank is expected to assess and determine the quality of Imperial Bank’s assets and liabilities and give the mandate to process and manage payouts to depositors.

To access their locked funds, claimants will have to complete the KDIC/NIC Bank claim forms, which are available online at the two institutions’ websites and at NIC Bank branches.

Last Wednesday, Imperial Bank shareholders supported the move to pay depositors up to Sh1.5 million but asked the KDIC and the Central Bank of Kenya to conduct the collapsed bank’s operations in a transparent manner.

“The shareholders of Imperial Bank Limited (in receivership) have given their consent for the Kenya Depositors Insurance Corporation to liquidate the bank’s treasury bills to facilitate the Sh1.5million payout announced by CBK,” said the bank’s directors in a statement issued on July 20.

“We have had the depositors at the heart of our fight for the bank. In spite of all the legal proceedings, it is our priority that the depositors are not inconvenienced further or even worse than they have already endured,” said Vishnu Dhutia, a representative of one of the shareholders.

A forensic audit of Imperial Bank commissioned by the CBK is ongoing. The probe by US-based firm FTI Consulting has reportedly an intricate web of fraud, linking various companies associated with companies owned or operated by associates of the bank’s late managing director Abdulmalek Janmohamed.