By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
A special team is to be set up to investigate allegations of multi-billion shillings corruption at the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) the Daily Reporter can reveal today.
This follows a classified report prepared by the Tea Board of Kenya that details underhand-dealings and corrupt activities at KTDA that was once a parastatal that catered for tea farmers’ interests before it was changed to a private company.
It is feared that farmers could have lost more than Sh 200 billion in corrupt activities through the tea auction at Mombasa port and failure to audit tea factories across the country for several years.
Disgruntled farmers and some KTDA insiders have also written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) asking them to initiate investigations into allegations of corruption at KTDA.
A detective conversant with this matter told Daily Reporter that a special team has been set-up to launch intensive investigations into allegations of corruption at KTDA.
“The issue of allegations of corruption at KTDA is being looked into and soon an investigation report on the same will be presented to the DPP for action,” he said.
A KTDA factory. Tea farmers want the agency directors investigated over corruption. PHOTO/COURTESY
KTDA insiders said the firm handles between 160 million and 200 million kilos of processed tea annually and about 60 percent of that processed tea is sold at Mombasa Tea Auction on Tuesdays all year round, where crooked, opaque and corrupt ‘price discovery’ is done.
The other 40 percent is handled through private arrangements where certain players are favoured as the 40 percent private arrangement is handled by the KTDA marketing department.
“They give tea to a Mombasa subsidiary of KTDA called Chai Trading Limited and some international players. Chai Trading Ltd even has an Office in Dubai. It is even treated as a non-KTDA entity which is just fraud,” one KTDA insider said.
The aggrieved KTDA parties say the Mombasa Tea Auction is the first instance where the subsistence tea farmer is conned as multinationals and Chai Trading Ltd suppress the auction prices by bidding rock bottom prices preventing brokers to sell them the tea below reserve prices.
“Therefore when the multinationals and Chai Trading Ltd fail to get tea at rock-bottom prices, they go to the KTDA marketing department on Wednesdays where they are offered the tea at rock bottom prices,” the official added.
The aggrieved KTDA parties say tea farming in Kenya is on its death bed because the farmers are not benefiting from their sweat due underhand dealings at the agency.
Tea farmers are also questioning how their more than Sh 4 billion held in the collapsed Imperial Bank and Chase Bank is going to be recovered.
The Judiciary is also on the spot over activities at KTDA as a contempt case has been dragging in the High Court with Judgment dates being postponed every time to accommodate “indisposed” counsels of the KTDA.
The contempt case was filed by members of Kiru Tea Factory Limited who sued KTDA after their team of directors led by, Mr Godfrey Kirundi, as chairman was recognized as bonafide directors contrary to a position taken by KTDA.
Kiru Tea Factory directors also accuse KTDA of withholding more than Sh 20 million that is supposed to be released to them.
Following revelations of corruption at KTDA volumes of documents that reveal massive corruption have been released to the office of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mr Nordin Haji and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations led, Mr Godfrey Kinoti.
The agitated tea farmers are also not happy with the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri, who they say is reluctant to take any action against KTDA despite them, petitioning him about illegal activities at the agency.
“We are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to take action against CS Kiunjuri as he has failed both maize and tea farmers in this country,” one of the tea farmers said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta when opening the Nairobi ASK show warned Mr Kiunjuri that drastic measures will be taken against him if he fails to protect the interests of farmers from cartels exploiting them.
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