Former Britam executives off the hook after DPP drops Sh1bn theft charges


Cytonn Investments Managing Limited Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Edwin Dande. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Renson Ingonga has withdrawn Sh1 billion theft charges against former executives of Britam Insurance, among them Edwin Harold Dande.

The charges were allegedly committed more than seven years ago.

The DPP said he decided to drop the charges after failing to get several documents from Britam to aid the investigations.

“The investigators sought the documents from the complainant, Britam Insurance, but the documents sought were not availed. A reminder was done but similarly got no response,” the acting assistant DPP Dorcas Rugut said.

She added, “Consequently, the DPP has directed that the matter in court be withdrawn until the documents sought are availed to avoid miscarriage of justice.”

Ms Rugut stated that the office of the DPP had independently and thoroughly gone through the file and the evidence and requested the police to carry out further investigations in regards to copies of a KPMG forensic audit report, Coulson Harney advocates legal audit and a joint venture agreement between Britam and Acorn Group ltd.

The former Britam Asset Managers managing director Mr Dande, Elizabeth Nkukuu (ex-senior portfolio manager), Shiv Arora (ex-assistant company secretary) and Patricia Njeri (ex-head of legal services) were accused of making unauthorised payments, an offence they allegedly committed between July and September 2014 from the firm’s real estate fund.

They were to be charged with two counts of theft by servant for the alleged transactions of more than Sh1.1 billion from Britam.

Earlier attempts by the former officials to quash the charges were thwarted by the Court of Appeal after finding that they had admitted that they authorised the remittances and had subsequently agreed to reimburse the millions, 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 then DPP Noordin Haji bowed to pressure from Britam to prosecute them, saying there was no evidence to support the claims.

It was their argument that the case was brought with the intention of eliminating them from 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.

“Apart from making that bold assertion, the appellants provided no evidence to prove the allegation. It is not enough for a party to make wild allegations and leave it to court to surmise. Nor was there evidence that the 1st respondent (DPP) instituted the criminal proceedings in a bid to pressurise the appellants to settle claims instituted against them by the 3rd respondent (Britam),” the judges said.

They maintained that all the payments were made in accordance with the governance process, which included various board approvals and there was no fraud as alleged.

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