Companies

Ex-Britam bosses face fraud charges on Sh1bn payments

cytonn

Cytonn Investments CEO Edwin Dande with chief investment officer Elizabeth Nkukuu at a past function in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Four former senior employees of British American Asset Managers will face fraud charges for making unauthorised payments of more than Sh1 billion from the company over seven years ago.

The former managing director Harold Dande, Elizabeth Nkukuu (senior portfolio manager), Shiv Arora (assistant company secretary) and Patricia Njeri (head of legal services) will now face charges after the Court of Appeal dismissed their plea to stop the trial, saying the money was refunded.

A bench of three judges of the Court of Appeal ruled that the former senior employees admitted that they authorised the remittances and had subsequently agreed to reimburse the money in a bid to settle the dispute.

“Prima facie therefore, there was evidence of the commission of the offence. As to whether the evidence was sufficient to found a conviction is for the trial court,” Justices Asike Makhandia, Mumbi Ngugi and Pauline Nyamweya said.

The judges also dismissed claims that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji bowed to pressure from Britam to prosecute them, saying there was no evidence to support the claims.

The four were to be charged with two counts of theft by servant after allegedly authorising payments of more than Sh1.1 billion from Britam, an offence they allegedly committed between July and September 2014 from the firm’s real estate fund.

High Court judge John Mativo had dismissed the case in 2017 prompting them to move to the Court of Appeal.

The DPP said after investigations, it was discovered that the four, who later founded investment firm Cytonn, engaged in fraudulent, irregular and unauthorised withdrawals or managed funds fraudulently.

Read: Ex-Britam executives accuse fund manager of witch-hunt for founding Cytonn

According to the probe, payments were generated by Mr Arora, reviewed by Ms Nkukuu and approved by Mr Dande. They allegedly resigned from Britam in a move allegedly calculated to frustrate investigations.

The former employees however moved to court arguing that other than being pressurised to repay the money, their former employer had instituted several cases before the High Court and recovered the money from the recipients' Acorn Group and its affiliates.

It was their argument that the case was brought with the intention of eliminating them from the business competition and that Britam was unhappy with their mass resignations from its employment and had to look for ways to ruin their blossoming careers and growing business elsewhere.