VODAFONE: What Is Their Role In Defrauding Kenyans Through Safaricom?

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CAPTION: Bob Collymore during his lavish wedding to Wambui Kamiru. 

We continue to sift through the technical mumbo-jumbo and tens of pages of explanatory excrement from the staff at Safaricom in the KPMG dossier, hoping to bring you a truly lucid and vivid picture of the official goings-on behind the curtain at the undisputed Kenyan money-spinner.

However, every so often, and confounded by the brazenness of the outright thievery we cannot help but ponder as to the “original sin” that started this company down the road to perdition, where its employees have sold their souls to the devil in return for several pieces of silver.

Mother company –VODAFONE- appears to have bought into the stereotype that Kenya (like any other African country) is hopelessly corrupt and anyone wishing to do any serious business, must be ready to ‘play ball’.

We saw for ourselves the determination of the Serious Fraud Office in the UK, for the successful prosecution and conviction of the officials of Smith and Ouzman Ltd for the crimes of bribery, in inducing Kenyan election officials to award them business in the printing of electoral ballots.

Despite a three year hiatus since the convictions of Christopher and Nicholas Smith in 2014, we saw with our own very eyes last week, the arrest of the ever sulky James Oswago, the immediate former CEO of the IEBC and more interestingly, Trevy Oyombra, a misguided young broker for Smith and Ousman Ltd.

Does someone need to make formal complaint to the SFO to occasion the opening of an enquiry file into the dealings of UK firms like Vodafone in self-evident fraudulent activities overseas?

Moreover, it’s becoming quite clear that we may have seriously underestimated current Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, taken in by his geeky and polished demeanor. It is becoming clear from the KPMG report that all these crazy “deals” couldn’t have happened without his having an inkling, but as a new CEO, was powerless to do anything, having inherited an entire infrastructure from his mercurial predecessor, Michael Joseph.

How else would you characterize the manner in which he kicked in the door of a home (ostensibly one that had problems, like any other in the World) and made away with the wife of another, and subsequently wed her in a lavish ceremony, attended by among others, the major suppliers to Safaricom and who have made a cameo appearance in the KPMG dossier?

CAPTION: “I got her mate!”, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore appears to be saying to Scanad CEO Bharat Thakrar during his white only wedding. Collymore married his love, Wambui Kamiru.

In the case of Bob Collymore, he noted very early in his stewardship the underhand dealings being carried out by members of his board and senior management. He probably believed that these people would be a hindrance to his forging a personal brand for himself, a managerial style that suited him but most importantly, they had created individual fiefdoms within the Safaricom ecosystem, where he would never have command despite being the CEO.

To speak like a Kenyan, Bob Collymore realized that he could not ‘eat’ comfortably with all these powerful vested interests in place, thus he needed to shake the tree. So, like a female Praying Mantis normally bites off the head of the male after mating, Bob Collymore ordered the KPMG audit with which he used to quietly remove some of the more powerful individuals within the organization.

So out went the like of New Zealander John Tombleson to be replaced by Sateesh Kamath, while the eviction of likes of Peter Arina and Pauline Warui allowed the sun’s rays to settle on the more agreeable likes of Stephen Chege and Janet Atika who would probably never have seen these positions in the old dispensation.

Bob Collymore had pulled off a major coup, in one fell swoop, found love brewed in an African pot and more recently had the Board approve an extension of his tenure as Safaricom CEO.
However, the KPMG report appears to have triggered an instant reaction, with Kenyans in London protesting along the sidelines of the International Conference against Corruption. Vodafone barred Collymore from attending the conference where he was slated to be key resource person.

CAPTION: Kenyans protesting against Bob Collymore and Safaricom corruption outside the venue of the International Conference against Corruption.

The ‘original sin’ with regard to VODAFONE and its acquisition of Safaricom relates to the matter of a super-shadowy company by the name MOBITELEA. This company somehow acquired 12.5% shareholding in VODAFONE Kenya Ltd, which in turn acquired 40% stake in Safaricom.
So shadowy was this company that it became part of parliamentary debate early in the Kibaki Presidency. Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph and all Directors of Vodafone Kenya Ltd denied any knowledge of Mobitelea Ventures.

There was speculation at the time that Mobitelea Ventures had something to do with Former 1st Son Gideon Moi and other KANU orphans. These posers certainly made a tidy sum from the dividends of Safaricom.

From there, it was open season on the company with anyone in a position of influence out to exact as much from the company as possible, within the shortest time possible.

However, and probably in a legal maneuver to deflect interest of the SFO in UK over questions about how individuals used a company with UK domicile to fraudulently acquire a stake in a company that had gone public, VODAFONE Kenya Ltd re-acquired the shares from Mobitelea.
By this time Mobitelea had earned billions in Dividends for its shareholders and hundreds of millions for its Directors and nominees.

Our colonial masters are happy to vary their own rules where it suits them, simple hustlers like Smith and Ouzman Ltd will get the Magna Carta hurled at them, while the misdeeds of the likes of Vodafone, with a bigger imprint on Her Majesty’s exchequer, would find absolution and even encouragement from the relevant English authorities.

By 2015, months before the KPMG audit was commissioned, media was awash with stories of Lebanese technology firm Mobinet losing out on a Kes. 1 Billion Contract on the basis of offering bribes to Safaricom employees.

We will continue with our serialization of the KPMG report, and feedback we are getting sent to us by Safaricom insiders on continued schemes to defraud this company.

You can easily bring down an entire building by chipping away at it brick by brick, an adage that Safaricom and its people should remember. It doesn’t take a 9.8 Richter scale earthquake.

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