The controversy surrounding Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK) deepened yesterday after it emerged signatories to its bank accounts had been kicked out.
A case filed by CWSK against Equity Bank, through lawyer Victor Rapando, shows the National Treasury had ordered the lender to change signatories to its accounts amid investigations into claims of misappropriation.
In the case before High Court judge David Majanja, CWSK wants to retain the signatories earlier submitted.
On October 24, Treasury PS Julius Muia wrote to the bank, ordering it to suspend signatories to the contested bank accounts until replacements are provided. This is meant to ensure prudent use of public money, he said.
“Following adverse media reports on the happenings at CWSK, the government constituted a multi-agency team to carry out a special audit of the society which is a State corporation established via legal notice no. 169 of 2014,” wrote Muia.
In the letter, Treasury says it believes bank accounts operated by the Child Welfare of Kenya may not have complied with the Public Finance Management Act 2012.
“It has come to the attention of the National Treasury that the bank accounts operated by CWSK are in breach of section 28 of the Public Finance Management Act 2012 and regulation 82 of the Public Finance Management (National Government) regulations 2015. Consequently, there is a manifest risk of fraud or loss or abuse of public resources transmitted to the society through Equity Bank accounts, Kilimani Supreme Branch,” the letter said.
Yesterday, CWSK denied claims of misappropriation of funds meant to take care of vulnerable children and blamed its woes on the media and child traffickers.
In their court papers, CWSK treasurer Basiliano Nyaga claims the society is being targeted by criminals disgruntled by its efforts to tame child trafficking.
“Claim of misappropriation of funds is a creation of the media perpetrated by child traffickers in an attempt to discredit efforts of the plaintiff to combat child trafficking. The funds held by the society and its accounts are annually audited by the Auditor General and no report has come up to show misappropriation,” Nyaga said.
Correspondences, filed in court, between Attorney General’s office, Acting Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, Equity Bank and CWSK, it emerged the current management of society is opposed to the plan to change signatories to its bank accounts.
It emerged that Treasury PS, on October 17, had sought AG’s opinion on the matter. He wanted his advice on the operations of the society and whether he could order for change of signatories.
Solicitor General Ken Ogeto stated CWSK is a State corporation and urged the Treasury to intervene.
Ogeto said Equity Bank had refused to take up names of new signatories based on CWSK’s CEO Irene Mureithi’s objection.
Ogeto also noted Ms Mureithi had been sent on compulsory leave to pave way for investigations.
“The CEO has instructed the bank not to allow the change in the bank signatures on the basis that the society’s funds vests on the board of trustees as provided in the establishing trust deed and not the board of directors. It worth noting the society is a State corporation and therefore a national government entity subject to the government’s regulations,” replied Ogeto, in a letter copied to AG Kihara Kariuki, Labour PS Nelson Marwa, CWSK chairman Shakila Abdalla and Equity Bank.
On October 19, Joseph Gitau who claims to be CWSK chairman, instructed the bank not to change the signatories.
The judge ordered the parties to start mediation to end the standoff and to appear before him on November 19.