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Economy

Nzoia Sugar MD due in court over corruption claims

Trucks deliver sugar cane at Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County. PHOTO | FILE
Trucks deliver sugar cane at Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County. PHOTO | FILE 

Nzoia Sugar Company Managing Director is expected in court Friday after being grilled by the anti-graft agency over alleged embezzlement of funds.

Mr Godfrey Wanyonyi was driven into the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) offices at 10 o’clock on Thursday for questioning before being transferred to the Bungoma Police Station for further interrogation.

He will appear before court alongside six other senior managers from the company’s finance department regarding the loss of tens of millions from the milling plant, according to EACC spokesperson Yassin Aila.

The charges, he said, will range from abuse of office, fraudulent acquisition of public property, forgeries and violation of public finance laws and regulations.

Mr Wanyonyi appeared shaken when he stepped out of the commission's offices and headed straight to a waiting saloon car that was parked some metres from the entrance.

He, however, declined to reveal the reasons for his arrest, only saying that the commission were yet to furnish him with the details.

“I came but they have told me nothing. Once I go there (Bungoma), I will know what I have been charged with,” the managing director said, as journalists tried to push him to reveal more details.

Recovery path

The company has been on the recovery path as it positioned itself as the best compared to neighbouring rival millers -- Mumias Sugar Company, West Kenya, Butali and Kibos sugar factories.

It will be a great blow particularly to farmers who have been banking on the factory to improve their financial fortunes, if the senior employees are found to have colluded to misappropriate funds meant to run the company.

Farmers from sugar belt regions have been complaining of delays and poor payments that do not match their production costs, something that has made many to uproot sugarcane in favour of other crops.

Kenya is a sugar-deficit country that depends on imports to bridge an acute shortage that is now more than 200,000 metric tonnes per year.

The price of the tea sweetener has been increasing due to a serious shortage of the commodity in supermarkets, with traders cashing on the inadequate stocks to flood the market with cheap imports.

Mumias Sugar Company, which has been the country’s largest producer of sugar, is still struggling to reclaim its position in the market after being weighed down by debts and mismanagement.

Stop recruitment

Mr Wanyonyi, who initially worked at Nzoia as finance manager, has been the managing director since May 17, after serving in acting position for a year.

In April last year, three people moved to the High Court in Nairobi to stop his recruitment to head the company on grounds that the process was not above board.

They claimed that Mr Wanyonyi was related to the recruiting firm and that he was not competitively sourced.

The three further alleged that Mr Wanyonyi does not have the required minimum qualification of a degree in the field of either agriculture, engineering, business, finance or social science to match the qualifications for the position as advertised.

Mr Wanyonyi has been spearheading the replacement of obsolete machinery at the factory to improve production from the initial crushing capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 tonnes per day.

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