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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CMC saga - Mobicom men gun for Muthoka

Ousted CMC Chair Peter Muthoka
Is Peter Muthoka's gig up? After barely warming the seat he took over from Jeremiah Kiereini as CMC Chairman, Muthoka was muscled out and by all indications flung out into the streets. Joel Kibe, CEO of Mobicom replaced him as chair. His MD, Bill Lay, formerly of General Motors, even called a press conference the other day and basically called Muthoka an embezzler who was hitting the firm for millions in opaque transactions. Muthoka is also the MD of Andy Forwarders, a logistics firm (think DHL, Transami, Siginon Freight etc). Andy Forwarders has exclusive contract to handle CMC's logistics including shipping imports, clearing and forwarding (and that includes the Passat's the government bought).

After getting the mighty boot from the other directors, followed by the damaging press conference, Muthoka hit back with press ads where he promised the matter would not end there.

Basically, besides milking CMC through exclusive contracts that he had given himself, Muthoka is also accused of overcharging CMC in clearance fees at the Port. Bill Lay claimed that when he was MD at GM, Muthoka used to charge him a third of what he charges CMC basically implying Andy Forwarders was inflating the bills.

Muthoka claimed he gives CMC serious business by buying trucks for his business from the firm. CMC is the vendor of heavy commercial vehicles like Nissan Diesel (UD). But according to management, Muthoka was buying the trucks at under quoted prices.

His logistics contract was cancelled.

Muthoka says he will not take it lying down although he hasn't been taking phone calls. By any measure, the man has formidable resourcefulness. CMC was not his only contract, otherwise he would not have shaken President Kibaki's hand at KICC when Kenya Revenue Authority was was issuing certificates and trophies for best taxpayers in the country.

He also does business with Safaricom and EABL. For starters, it seems he is a good man to do a favour for. Reports claim the man routinely hands over brand new Range Rovers to win business. It is said that at Treasury one lady found herself the proud owner of the said vehicle after the Passat deal was inked. Two guys at one of the two companies named above also received Range Rovers while at one of them, a briefcase full of cash was enough to secure business.

At EABL both DHL and Transami were booted and Andy Forwarders given the logistics contract.

At the last meeting where he ran out of aces, Muthoka is said to have threatened Bill Lay.

Enter Mobicom: Unfortunately for Muthoka, in this latest battle he seems to have come up against a formidable and implacable foe. The Mobicom duo; chairman Paul Ndung'u and chief executive Joel Kibe. Mobicom has an interesting story behind it but the long and short of it is that Ndung'u has promised to deal with Muthoka completely. To finish him. This puts Muthoka, who is said to also do business for Moi in some places, in a sticky situation. The forces ranged against him may call upon influence from highest echelons in the land. Mobicome has also made a lot of money first as the biggest Safaricom dealer for about 10 years (it's now a Super dealer for Orange) as well as running SMS lottos like Shinda Smart which raked in hundreds of millions.

Given that Muthoka is not that well liked by those who've met and dealt with him, many palms must be rubbing with glee across the business world. So the question must be asked, Is Peter Muthoka's gig up? It may perhaps, be early to draw the curtains but one thing is for sure; It is unlikely that Andy Forwarders will make the cut for best taxpayers in its category this year.

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