Kenya Power will require companies supplying it with goods and services worth millions of shillings to declare their ultimate beneficial owners as part of the electricity distributor’s crackdown on graft.
Any supplier paid more than Sh1 million per month or Sh12 million per annum will file its true owners with Kenya Power and expressly authorise the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm to disclose the same to its shareholders and regulators.
The unprecedented move, which shareholders will be asked to approve at the company’s upcoming annual general meeting on December 3, is designed to expose insider dealings and other potential conflicts of interest.
It could also expose external parties who have been caught in fraudulent transactions with other companies or Kenya Power in the past.
Kenya Power’s financial position has weakened materially in recent years despite enjoying monopoly status, with corruption and weak corporate governance being cited as one of the major ills bedevilling the company.
“All suppliers and persons selling and or supplying electric power and or other goods and services to the company in excess of an aggregate of Sh1 million per month and or Sh12 million annually shall disclose to the company the ultimate beneficial owner of the supplier and or electric power,” reads a new article that Kenya Power wants to introduce in its governance documents.
“The suppliers shall expressly permit the company to disclose such ultimate beneficial owner in its annual financial reports and or statutory disclosures.”
Kenya Power says the special resolution to introduce the new article is based on provisions of Section 93A of the Companies Act and the regulations promulgated pursuant to the said provision.
That section of the law requires each company to keep a register of its beneficial owners, including their names and addresses. The information is to be filed with the Registrar of Companies.
Kenya Power’s move, if approved, will take the requirement from a mere filing with the State to public disclosure and elevate scrutiny of entrepreneurs doing business with the electricity distributor.
This will avail the information for perusal by a diverse group of stakeholders, including shareholders, regulators, activists and competitors of Kenya Power’s suppliers.
Insider dealings are expected to be the first to be flagged in the company’s transparency drive.
Another resolution to be put to a shareholder vote seeks to authorise the board to recover “the losses against the assets of the persons found culpable for fraudulent trading with the company including the past senior executives and other senior persons who have served in management in the company.”
Kenya Power’s former managing directors Ken Tarus and Ben Chumo are among scores of top executives who have been arrested and charged in court for alleged corruption and abuse of office.
Besides fighting graft, it will also expose the faces behind the lucrative procurement at the utility firm which spends more than Sh100 billion annually on the purchase of electricity and other goods and services.
Kenya Power says it is sitting on significant inventory of obsolete stocks, indicating that the company will suffer major losses on some of the past procurement decisions.
“Shareholders having considered the accounts for the financial year 2020/21 and 2019/20 are concerned about the high level of slow-moving and obsolete stocks and the inability of the company to write back the provisions taken in 2019/2020 and preceding years,” the company says in its AGM notice.
The firm says it has now tightened its procurement processes to ensure the quality of goods meets internal standards and suppliers have a solid reputation and track record, among other checklists.
The decision to expose its procurement to public scrutiny is among the reforms being implemented by Kenya Power which has relied on government intervention to keep the lights on.