Five senior Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) managers summoned by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) yesterday denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
The five, led by chief executive Lerionka Tiampati, were grilled over accusations of misappropriation of funds through questionable payments of lawyers in a series of lawsuits.
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In a letter addressed to DCI boss George Kinoti and signed by eight representatives of various tea factories, tea farmers on August 10 laid bare what they felt was reckless plunder of their money by KTDA.
The farmers said the agency, which was created to safeguard their interests and returns, had been frustrating them by defying their recommendations, even challenging some of them in court and billing them tens of millions of shillings to pay lawyers.
In one of the cases, KTDA is accused of going to court to challenge farmers’ decision to reinstate the one-man-one-vote system. Instead, KTDA wanted owners of big tracts of land to have more votes. KTDA’s wishes prevailed.
“The farmers spent approximately Sh500,000 on the entire suit while KTDA billed factories a cumulative of Sh200 million for this case,” reads the letter.
The KTDA officials were ordered by the DCI to produce minutes from previous board meetings to prove that the payments they made in the lawsuits were authorised.