25 October 2012

Kenya: Pyrethrum Board Gets Reprieve in Assets Sale

An auction of assets belonging to the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya slated for today has been halted by the High Court. Judge Anyara Emukule on Wednesday evening granted a group of farmers, former employees and the Retirement Benefits Authority a last minute reprieve by issuing an injunction against the auction of non-core assets.

The three parties told Emukule that the planned auction was irregular and shrouded in mystery as the board had refused to disclose of the locations of various assets to be auctioned in the paid up advertisements in the local newspapers.

Lawyer Paul Wathutha representing RBA told the court that if PBK was allowed to go on with the auction, there will be no guarantee that a pension scheme operated by the board will be able to pay off claims to former employees.

Wathutha claimed that PBK owed the scheme contributions of up to Sh717 million. He said the non-core assets were the only security the scheme for the debt.

Wathutha said that if the auction is done, then PBK should be compelled to give an assurance that part of the proceeds will go into offsetting the scheme's debts.

The court was told that the board intended to sell various properties including residential houses in up market Milimani area in Nakuru among other properties.

The farmers on the other hand contented that the sale of the assets was irregular given that the board failed to consult farmers who are key stakeholders.

Lawyer Gordon Ogolla representing an interested party told the court that the board failed to reveal the details of the non-core assets on sale in advertisements on national dailies on September 28 this year.

Ogolla claimed that the PBK has no competent board to oversee the sale of the non-core assets. He added that his client who was a former employee occupies one of the buildings intended for auction and the board had earlier been stopped by court from interfering in the suit property.

The parties questioned why the board had failed to not only disclose the value of the houses intended for auction but also the location of the various buildings to go on sale. Emukule directed the applicants to serve the board and fixed the matter for hearing on November 7.

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