Agricultural firm Kakuzi #ticker:KUKZ has been sued in the United Kingdom for alleged human rights abuses, exposing the company to the risk of hefty fines and reparations to the victims.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm is already incurring costs of defending itself in the UK legal system.
The matter was first disclosed by its Kent-based parent company Camellia Plc which said it had been sued over assault and sexual misconduct conducted by employees in its African operations but did not mention Kakuzi specifically.
Kakuzi now says it is among the parties sued in the UK. “The company is also defending itself from a UK legal firm who wishes to bring Kakuzi into the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom,” Kakuzi’s chairman Graham Mclean says in the company’s interim report.
“The costs of this action to June 30, 2020 are included in the half year results,” he added without saying how much the firm spent in legal costs in the review period.
Camellia earlier said it had already spent £3.5 million (Sh501 million) in legal expenses as of March and it is not clear whether the figure includes Kakuzi’s costs. Camellia’s operations in Africa include Kakuzi (in which it owns a 50.7 percent stake), Eastern Produce Kenya, Eastern Produce Malawi, Eastern Produce Cape (South Africa) and Eastern Produce Tanzania.
Camellia said it takes any complaint of criminality, misconduct, illegality, or unethical behaviour extremely seriously.
The multinational said that it cannot, at this time, quantify the financial impact of these claims. Kakuzi has over the years battled various claims and charges, including allegations that it is the beneficiary of thousands of acres of land that was originally acquired illegally from locals during the colonial days.