UK multinational firm, Camilla Plc has distant itself from accusation about it controlling Kakuzi’s board or its daily operations.
Kakuzi, an agricultural firm implicated in serious human rights abuses in Kenya.
The firm was sued in the UK by a law firm representing scores of alleged victims of rape and violence perpetrated by Kakuzi’s employees.
Camellia has already spent over Sh500 million in legal charges and the move to distance itself from Kakuzi is viewed as a strategy to escape reparations or fines that the court may order.
“Kakuzi is a Kenyan farming company, quoted on the Nairobi stock exchange and is led by Kakuzi’s board of directors on behalf of its 3,000 employees and 1,300 (mostly Kenyan) shareholders,” the multinational said in a statement.
“Camellia bought a 50.7 percent stake in the 1990s but we don’t have operational or managerial control, nor control of the board.”
The statement directly contradicts the legal and real-world control of Kakuzi.
With a 50.7 percent stake held through two investment vehicles, Camellia has control of the board of Kakuzi to his it has appointed executive members including Chairman Graham Mclean and Managing director Chris Flowers.
“The group is controlled by Camellia Plc, a company incorporated in England. Camellia Plc is the ultimate parent of the group,” Kakuzi said in its latest annual report.
“In implementing the code (of corporate governance), the directors have taken account of the group’s size and structure and the fact that there is a controlling shareholder, Camellia Plc.”
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Kakuzi’s second-largest investor, John Kibunga Kimani has a 32.2 percent stake, and his bid to get a board seat was declined in 2018. Kimani was raised in Kakuzi’s estates and later built his fortune through professional work and long term investing.
The remaining shares have been distributed among over 1,300 investors.
Camellia said the legal claims were brought on a no-win-no-fee basis, adding that justice will be served.
“Kakuzi is investigating the allegations so that if there has been any wrongdoing, those responsible for it can be held to account, and if appropriate, safeguarding processes can be improved,” Camellia said.