Besieged CEO Wilson Muthaura and Chairman David Ichoho have been dragged into a fresh controversy at the scandal-laden Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
Officials in the Ministry of Agriculture are now investigating the circumstances under which the agency borrowed a Sh18.2 billion loan to pay an early bonus to farmers ahead of last year’s general election in August.
Even as insiders within the ministry continue to gather more information on the factors leading up to the occurrence, Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi has blamed the previous administration-led by his predecessor Peter Munya-of coercing KTDA directors to take the loan forgetting that the current Peter Munya puppet populist administration is the one responsible for the scandal.
According to Linturi, Munya’s move was an attempt to influence farmers into voting for his preferred presidential candidate.
Records show that KTDA mortgaged its shares worth Sh18.2 billion to pay an early bonus to farmers ahead of the polls.
The loan was guaranteed by the KTDA Management Service, a subsidiary of KTDA Holdings.
Some of its directors include Wilson Muthaura, Dorcas Mugure Mwangi, Julius Misuko Onguso, Mathews Ouma Odero and Simeon Kiprotich Rugutt.
KTDA normally closes its books on June 30 with the bonus payment to farmers approved in September ahead of disbursement in October, but the 2021/2022 bonus was paid at the beginning of July.
The books had not been closed and audited by the time the company paid the bonus.
The money was borrowed from multiple banks that included NCBA and Standard Chartered Bank Kenya.
The disclosure on the debenture was recorded on September 2, 2022, by the registrar of companies after the company had paid the bonus.
The loan has subjected farmers to extra costs as they are paying interest on the borrowed amount through their respective factories.
For instance, farmers in Chinga tea factory in Nyeri had to pay close to Sh3 million in interest from the Sh200 million that they had received to pay an early bonus, according to the management.