In Summary
  • The CEO is locked in a legal fight with the board of directors for control of 11 accounts at Equity Bank, which the lender has now frozen.
  • Ms Irene Mureithi obtained a court order barring her suspension and has since opened an all-out war against her employer.

Today, Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK) chief executive Irene Mureithi would have been exactly two months into compulsory leave to pave the way for a special audit of the institution that was exposed for mistreatment of minors and gross corruption in a series of media reports.

INVESTIGATIONS

But on October 11, just four days after the letter sending her on compulsory leave was drafted, Ms Mureithi obtained a court order barring her suspension and has since opened an all-out war against her employer.

The media reports detailed how children under the CWSK’s care were denied proper medical attention, exposed to expensive, unverified treatments while money that could have eased the situation was used in projects now under investigation.

Attempts to suspend Ms Mureithi have now spawned a series of court cases where several orders have been issued, throwing the CWSK into a dizzy spin that now threatens to grind operations to a halt.

The court battles have also threatened to hamper investigations into graft and mistreatment of children which was ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office following the damning media reports in August and September.

SIGNATORIES

Aside from fighting suspension, Ms Mureithi is also locked in a battle with the CWSK board of directors for control of 11 accounts at Equity Bank, which the lender has now frozen following confusion over individuals with authority over the millions domiciled in them.

Board chairperson Shakila Abdalla has now revealed in court papers that Ms Mureithi has used the order stopping her suspension to change account signatories for the Equity Bank accounts, effectively locking the CWSK out of its own funds while fighting a series of suits.

On October 14, children at Mama Ngina Children’s Home in South C, Nairobi, were forced to split old furniture into firewood for cooking, after the board failed to secure funds for any other means owing to the lockout, according to court papers.

PROVISIONS

“The CWSK is unable to provide the very essential and basic needs of these vulnerable children as the provision of essential services, including food, have ground to a halt. There is further risk of misuse and misappropriation of public funds by Ms Mureithi, which funds are meant for the well-being of vulnerable children,” Ms Abdalla says.

When the CWSK board met on October 7, it resolved to change the signatories of 11 bank accounts operated by the institution at Equity Bank.

And on October 16, the board furnished Equity Bank with a fresh list of signatories.

Equity, however, refused to change the signatories, arguing that Ms Mureithi had earlier written to the lender in her capacity as CEO instructing it not to follow the CWSK board’s demands for a switch.

CWSK’s Trustees also wrote to Equity insisting that the signatories should remain the same, seemingly in support of Ms Mureithi.

LOSING MONEY

The letter, signed by Trustees Board chairman Joseph Gitau, was sent to Equity on October 19.

Five days later, the National Treasury ordered Equity Bank to freeze the 11 accounts, citing violation of the Public Finance Management Act and the likelihood of losing money to graft. The lender complied.

The CWSK has now sued Equity Bank for freezing its accounts, accusing the lender of acting without notice.

Mr Basiliano Nyaga, a CWSK official, claims the lender froze the accounts irregularly and without informing the institution.

He adds that CWSK is now unable to operate as its funds are stuck.

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