NYERI, Kenya, May 18 – Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina wants former and present directors of Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), who were involved in the loss of Sh2billion belonging to small scale tea farmers, be charged in court.
The Senator said the money, which had been irregularly placed at Chase Bank, was lost after KTDA directors conspired with the bank’s managers to steal.
This was before the bank collapsed due to poor management and loss of billions of shillings.
“Even as the government enacts new regulations in the tea industry, it should not lose sight of the loss of the monies. As leaders, we know that banking of farmers’ money at the bank instead of paying them was a well-crafted scheme to steal from them. Those who conducted that fraud must therefore pay,” Maina said.
Funds from public entities are supposed to be banked through treasury bills or bonds, and not in a bank; but KTDA had been delaying payments to farmers, in order to earn interest on the deposits.
“This money was banked before this bank went under so these directors and top managers at KTDA who approved the deal knew what they were doing. This was a well-cheographed scheme to steal,” said Maina.
Kenya tea development agency had banked the money in a deal that would have seen the financial institution fund construction of small hydro projects for most of the factories .
The senator called for the dismantling of cartels in the tea industry which he says continue to impoverish farmers.
He said that currently, tea farmers are unable to break even due to corruption in the sector with farmers earning peanuts.
The comments by Maina come at a time when the Ministry of Agriculture has proposed new regulations in the sector which will see powers of KTDA crippled.
Among the proposal is sale of all tea from 66 factories at Mombasa auction and depositing of money at individual factory account before buyers ship produce out of the country.
The farmers are expected to debate the new regulations and pass them before they are enacted into law.