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Economy

KTDA directors face contempt charges for factory boss ouster

 Lerionka Tiampati
Kenya Tea Development Agency CEO Lerionka Tiampati. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Directors of a breakaway group of the troubled Kiru Tea Factory in Murang’a and the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) will Tuesday face punishment for orchestrating the removal of the plant’s chairman, Chege Kirundi, against court orders.

The Court of Appeal issued a notice on August 2 that it would Tuesday hear contempt proceedings for allegedly disobeying court orders issued in December last year stopping the removal or replacement of Mr Kirundi.

“This application will be heard Tuesday the 7th day of August…if any party shall fail to appear in person or by an advocate, the application may be heard and determined in their absence,” said the court notice.

The KTDA directors including CEO Lerionka Tiampati and Kennedy Omanga (company secretary) and some directors of Kiru Tea failed in May to terminate contempt proceedings.

The 8,000-member factory has been embroiled in a dispute since the suspension of the director, Stephen Maina Githiga. The fight forced the KTDA to intervene.

Mr Kirundi and his allies, who are facing rebellion from Mr Githiga’s group, had secured an injunction blocking the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings Ltd and Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services Ltd from interfering with the leadership of the factory.

While issuing the orders last year, the judges noted that the Kiru directors were involved in a war of attrition, with each side trying to ensure that its candidate holds sway as the company secretary.

Shareholders opposed Mr Githiga’s stay at the firm, arguing that his position at the factory became invalid after Sasini hired him as group managing director in January last year, adding that he could not sit on boards of two firms that deal in tea.

Mr Githiga was in February ousted following an extraordinary meeting, which the KTDA declared unprocedural. The High Court in December rejected Mr Githiga’s plea to stop Kiru from axing him and ruled that the disputes be settled in the boardroom, setting the stage for his ejection.

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