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Three arrested for conspiring to steal, fraud KES. 3.8 million from a Cooperative

21 November 2013, 20:46 Joseph Njung’eh

Nyeri - Police in Othaya have arrested three people who allegedly conspired to steal and later swindled Othaya Dairy Cooperative Society out of more than KES3.8 million.

The arrests followed area Governor Nderitu Gachagua’s intervention into the matter since the case had initially been withdrawn under unclear circumstances in the middle of the year. 

The trio, Daniel Muhihu Gicheru, Ruth Njeri Kariuki alias Ruth Kagai and Susan Njeri Kanyeki were later on Thursday arraigned in Othaya court, facing five criminal charges before resident magistarte RK Langat.

However, in a separate interview, the Cooperative’s Chairman Josphat Gitahi and the Secretary Manager Harrisson Wachira, said the accused persons were initially charged in court but the case was withdrawn earlier in the year under unclear circumstances.

They lamented that some strangers ‘cooked up’ a letter from the DPP’s office indicating that the management had decided to withdraw the matter and settle it out of court.

Wachira said it was a wonder to them since they had not been consulted and had no idea.

Though the case was withdrawn the accused persons never went back to them to settle the case as they had promised court.

He narrated that one of the accused persons, Susan Njeri Kanyeki, was the proprietor of Friendly Firms Nyeri and had carried milk from the cooperative for about three months without payment.

Recently, the Cooperative sought assistance from the Governor on the matter since it will soon be declared bankrupt if it failed to settle a loan from Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).

Wachira said after they were swindled the amount, the new management which assumed office in June last year had to borrow KES.8.5 Million from KCB bank to pay farmers their arrears and settle some of the debts accrued initially.

However, the cooperative with more than 11,000 registered members has not been able to settle the debt and the bank has issued a notice of auctioning their storey building in Othaya town on December 15 this year.

To that effect, they have also organized a fund raising event next month in attempts of collecting the funds to repay the debt before auction.

The two leaders blamed the ousted management for misappropriating farmers’ funds and leading the cooperative to a collapse.

Wachira further revealed that the retired President Mwai Kibaki in February this year had pledged to give them KES.10 Million, in efforts of reviving the cooperative, but the Treasury is yet to release the funds amid the tension.

“We have approached the Treasury requesting for the funds given by the retired President but we are always told to wait. Now the cooperative’s building will be auctioned in December 15 and the Cooperative will automatically collapse,” decried Wachira, noting that all they want is the bank loan repaid and farmers as well.

While in court, the accused persons ,Daniel Muhihu Gicheru, Ruth Njeri Kariuki alias Ruth Kagai and Susan Njeri Kanyeki, faced charges of conspiring to commit a misdemeanor jointly with others not before the court.

The court heard that on differe dates between June 1, 2008 and March 31, 2010 at Othaya Dairy Cooperative society limited in Othaya town they conspired to steal cash from the cooperative.

Muhihu Gicheru faced a separate count of stealing by servant.

The court heard that on separate dates between September 2008 and June 2009, as the position of clerk of the cooperative he stole KES 458,850 which came into his possession by virtue of employment.

Ruth Njeri Kariuki was also separately charged with obtaining credit by false pretenses between June 22, 2008 and July 31, 2009.

It is alleged that she incurred a debt of KES 229,629 from the Cooperative Society by falsely pretending that she was in a position to be supplied with milk which she would sell and remit the money back.

Susan Njeri Kanyeki is also individually accused of obtaining credit by false pretence.

The court heard that between July 2009 and September 2010 at Othaya Dairy Cooperative Society Limited offices, she obtained credit of KES 3,126,112 from the Cooperative under false pretense, pretending that she was in a position to be supplied with milk which she would sell and remit the money back.

She was further charged with issuing a cheque of KES 5 million to the cooperative knowing that her account had insufficient funds.

They, however denied the charges and were released on bond terms of KES 1 million, KES 500,000 and KES 3 million respectively. The case was slated to proceed on January 14, 2014 with a mention of December 4 this year.

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