Ex-Britam bosses to face trial over Sh1.1b 'theft'

Former Britam bosses Shiv Arora, Elizabeth Nkukuu, Patricia Wanjama and Edwin Dande.

The Supreme Court has dealt a major blow to four former employees of Britam Limited after dismissing their case challenging their prosecution over alleged stealing of Sh1 billion.

The apex court’s decision means that it is the end of the road for former Britam managing director Edwin Dande, Elizabeth Nkukuu, Shiv Arora, and Patricia Wanjama who have been battling for eight years to stop their prosecution.

“We find that their application to stop the trial lacks merit and is for dismissal,” ruled the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Judges Philomena Mwilu, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u, Isaac Lenaola, and William Ouko ruled that the four who resigned from Britam to form a rival company, Cytton Investments Limited, had not disclosed any arguable case to warrant stopping their prosecution.

The disputes started in October 2014 when Britam Ltd made a complaint to the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) alleging that the former managers had fraudulently misappropriated over Sh1 billion before resigning from their positions and starting the rival investment company.

At the time of their resignation, Mr Dande was the managing director, Ms Nkukuu was the portfolio manager, Ms Wanjama was the head of legal and assistant company secretary and Mr Arora was an investment analyst.

Investigators then said they established that there were payments to various companies totaling Sh1.1 billion prepared by Mr Arora, reviewed by Ms Nkukuu, and authorised by Mr Dande but which were not approved by Britam Ltd’s board of directors.

They allegedly made another withdrawal from Britam’s subsidiary in Mauritius totaling Sh10 million without approval from the management. Police said it was on the basis of those revelations that they decided to charge the four with stealing.

However, the four moved to the High Court to stop the prosecution claiming that the charges were meant to persecute them for resigning from Britam Ltd and forming a rival company.

Justice George Odunga however dismissed the application and allowed the Director of Public Prosecution to press charges against the four.

Aggrieved by the findings, the four moved to the Court of Appeal but in March, Appellate Judges Asike Makhandia, Mumbi Ngugi and Pauline Nyamweya dismissed their claims on account that the DCI and DPP were justified to continue with the charges.

The judges found that the DCI had proved they were acting on a complaint by the former employer and that upon investigations, they discovered sufficient evidence to warrant charging Dande, Nkukuu, Wanjama, and Arora.

They then filed the petition at the Supreme Court to stop the intended prosecution on grounds that the Court of Appeal erred in dismissing their appeal without considering the circumstances surrounding the dispute.

Editor’s Note: Story has been updated to reflect the correct ruling of the Supreme Court dated 19.05.2022 on its jurisdiction.

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