Cement firm bosses fight back over ‘suspension’

December 28, 2011
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Their suspension followed offloading of 4pc shareholding belonging to NSSF/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 28 – The chairman of the troubled East African Portland Cement Company and Managing Director insist they are legally still in office.

A joint statement signed by Mark ole Karbolo and Kephar Tande urged the public to ignore an earlier notice that was issued by Peter Korir saying they are no longer authorised to transact business on behalf of the company.

“The public is hereby advised to ignore the purported notice as the maker has no authority whatsoever known to the law as he is neither a director nor a duly authorised attorney of the company,” the joint statement said.

The two were suspended last week by the acting industrialisation minister Amason Kingi. Tande was then ordered to hand over to Korir.

The suspension followed the offloading of four percent shareholding belonging to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) which was allegedly done without the government’s knowledge.

The sale meant the government lost majority shareholding in the firm.

Tande however refuted the claim saying that relevant bodies were involved and that the government was well aware of the events that were taking place.

“The sale of shares by NSSF is not a decision by EAPCC. NSSF would have been in a better position to explain and relevant government authorities were kept informed,” Tande went on to explain.

Tande also issued a separate personal statement saying he was targeted because he refused to sanction irregular dealings at the company, which he says has been used as a ‘cash cow.’

“The reason I am being victimised is because I have refused to be used to do irregular things in EAPCC. Let us face it, the company is seen as a cash cow by some sections of society,” his personal statement stated.

He argued that his purported suspension was a move to gain access to the company’s resources.

“The allegations claimed have never been disclosed to me officially or to the board. I have no idea what they are except what I read in the press. So why was I suspended?” he posed.

According to the industrialisation minister, the suspensions had been informed by allegations of mismanagement that have led to huge losses.

He had said that the government had decided to carry out forensic investigation into the matter and that the board of directors and the managing director had been suspended until the allegations are fully investigated.

Karbolo however sent a rejoinder accusing the minister of interfering with the company, pointing out that it is not a State corporation and that the government had no powers to suspend the board.

He stated that the board and the directors of EAPCC would not comply with the minister’s order.

However, at a meeting held on December 23 between Industrialisation PS Karanja Kibicho and the management of EAPCC at the company, the PS maintained that the company was still a State Corporation.

There are fears privatisation of the country’s second largest cement manufacturer is aimed at disposing and acquiring the company’s prime land that is in excess of 20,000 acres in Athi River and Sultan Hamud.

According to EAPCC’s financial statement of 2010/2011, the company’s freehold land is valued at Sh166 million.

The board has already moved to court to challenge the minister’s directive.

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