Troubled Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) CEO Wilson Muthaura has come under intense pressure to respond to allegations of leveraging the powerful position to protect his looting cronies at the Kapkoros Tea Factory.
Directors at the Bomet-based factory are currently under investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for corruption, mismanagement and pilferage of funds.
In a letter dated November 18th, 2022, sleuths from Kiambu Road headquarters wrote to the Kapkoros Tea Factory manager requesting information and documents relating to the ongoing probe.
They are looking into claims of irregular tendering, fraudulent buying and selling of land, unscrupulous employment, poor remuneration of workers and embezzlement of funds through frequent road trips.
The besieged directors have reportedly been acting under the shield of powerful forces at Farmers’ Building, along Moi Avenue, Nairobi.
The cartel boasts of strong connections within President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration and more specifically the Agriculture Ministry led by CS Mithika Linturi, who is Muthaura’s tribemate.
According to insiders, Muthaura works to protect his selfish interests and those of KTDA Chairman David Ichoho.
The majority of staff simply view him as nothing more than Ichoho’s puppet.
Just like in the case of Chai Limited, where they were involved in irregular trading, Muthaura and other senior managers are looting and influencing tenders in small factories.
The Kapkoros Tea Factory is now the latest cloud to hang above Muthaura’s head.
In recent weeks, this blog has relentlessly shed light upon glaring cases of mismanagement, corruption and sexual scandals at KTDA.
Various local media reported that upon his rise to the position, Muthaura embarked on a serious witch-hunt at the headquarters by ruthlessly sending senior staff home and replacing them with his incompetent acquaintances.
This was against due process and only inspired by greed, nepotism and tribalism.
At the time, he also faced accusations of sexual escapades together with a section of KTDA’s top administration.
Insiders who spoke to this blog under the request of anonymity described their boss as a “loose zip” and “serial womanizer” with an appalling level of arrogance.
“He is extremely proficient in intimidating and threatening his self-perceived enemies,” one source said.
Most recently, he was found in contempt of court after failing to act on orders issued on reinstating the Managing Director of the Kenya Tea Packers (Ketepa) Albert Otochi and the General Manager of KTDA Power Company Japheth Sayi.
In a ruling dated December 15, 2022, Judge B O Manani, also directed the CEO to reinstate the full salary of the two officials, which had been cut to half after their suspension in September.
Sources privy to the matter, however, say that Muthaura has vowed not to follow the orders.
He was recently overheard stating that if he is forced to bring anyone back, they will be frustrated into quitting.
One way he plans to do this is by fixing them into multiple scandals and later giving them up to the authorities.
“Muthaura always brags of enjoying the backing of powerful officials in the Kenya Kwanza administration, including President William Ruto.
He says that Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi is always on his speed dial whenever he needs favors from the government,” another source added.
At Chai Limited, Muthaura has planted cronies, Simon Gikanga Mbogori, the Managing Director and Mercy, the Human Resource and Administration in charge of suspicious trading that has seen KTDA lose millions of shillings.
Reports indicate that George Okoyo previously with Chacha Tea and Gokal Trading Kenya Limited, both involved in Mombasa tea auction, landed at Chai Limited as a Trading Executive, specifically to use his network with private firms involved in tea auctions at the port to help the cartel loot KTDA.
One such firm is Gokul Overseas which is using a local subsidiary, GoKal Trading Kenya Limited to buy tea from KTDA using Chai Limited in what officials have flagged as undervalued prices.
Gikanga, for the short time he has held the post of Chai MD, is not leaving anything for granted and is on a mission to make millions of shillings for himself and his godfather Muthaura.
KTDA has reportedly been irregularly importing low-quality tea for low blending purposes, a move that causes an artificial glut, making tea farmers earn reduced prices for their produce.
Industry players also collude to fix prices and deny small-scale farmers their earnings.
KTDA manipulates the price for the highest tea grade.
The grade has consistently sold at low prices or at the same price.
Word on the street is that KTDA sells tea to Chai Trading at a lower price than the offered price.
For example, one time the price was offered $2.61 (Sh224), the price auction being much lower at $2.05 (Sh176) per kilo, yet the destination of the market was not indicated.
Selling tea outside auction venues to some big marketers is also a common practice by KTDA’s Chai Trading subsidiary.
Chai also buys teas directly from the factories at lower prices than the auction prices and imports inferior quality teas from Asia which it blends with the Kenyan teas to export as Kenyan brands.
KTDA also buys its own teas at the auction, and at much lower prices.
These teas are then shifted to traditional markets like Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, UK and lately, the United Arab Emirates, which buy through agents.