Crimes News

Former Cotu Official Files Petition Against Cotu SG,Francis Atwoli For ‘siphoning’ Workers Cash

Ms Millicent Ogila a former COTU Official

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli opened a pseudo bank account to siphon workers cash, a court has been told.

Ms Millicent Ogila a former COTU official told the court that she was accompanied Mr Atwoli, as the programmes coordinator, when the account was opened in October 2002. Sh15 million was deposited in that account.

She said the Cotu boss was aware of all the withdrawals. Ms Ogila is accused of forging Atwoli’s signature and minutes to open the account at Barclays Bank, Queensway Branch.

It is alleged that she used the account to siphon the union’s money, together with former treasurer Mr Cornel Nyagun.

Ms Ogila told principal magistrate Peter Ooko that it was Mr Atwoli who opened the account and remained a signatory to it. She said she would accompany the Cotu boss to source for funds to run programmes and monies would be channeled to the said account.

Among the donors who funded the programmes, she said was the National Aids Control Council.

She said the account was opened after the donor requested a different account that would be used for programmes such as sensitization on HIV and AIDS.

“Mr Atwoli knew where all the money went to,” she said, adding that she spent the money on trainings, sensitization at work places and sensitizing mothers on mother-to-child transmission.

COTU SG Francis Atwoli

Ms Ogila said she spent four months at Del Monte firm in Thika, where it was reported that at least two people would succumbed to AIDS related diseases, every week.

She added that the firm was under the Kenya Plantations and Agricultural Workers Union, an affiliate of Cotu.

She said NACC dispatched Sh6 million to the account in three tranches.

Ms Ogila said she was accompanied to Del Monte by the late Kabete MP and unionist George Muchai.

Ms Ogila and Mr Nyangun were charged in August 2013 with seven counts of forgery and stealing of over Sh115 million from the Cotu’s accounts.

They are alleged to have opened a fake account under Cotu’s name, which they operated between November 21, 2002 and March 27, 2013.

But Ms Ogila denied the claims saying the board authorized the opening of the account before she joined Cotu in July 2002.

In June, While defending himself over the allegations Cornel Ogutu Nyagun said that that COTU leadership knew the existence of the bank account. He further denied forging and uttering false documents form the union saying that the documents used to withdraw money were legal documents.

The accused person while defending himself said that they used to pre-sign cheques adding that the same cheques were signed by him, the secretary general Francis Atwoli and COTU chairman Rajab Mwondi.

He further testified that on 3rd April 2003, 200,000 shillings was withdrawn from the account. On that material day he was at home already suspended from work.

The accused also produces other documents which they used to pre-sign without indicating any amount or date.Ogutu  said Atwoli was aware of the funds which was to cater for HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in the organisation and  was involved in the opening of an account at Barclays Bank which returned to haunt him into the dock.

“On November 6 2002 I received a call from Atwoli instructing me to meet at (the)  parking lot…in order to open the new account for the money which had been wired to COTU,” he said.

Ogutu said Atwoli instructed him “we open a new account  where the money would be deposited.”

Being cross examined by his lawyer,he claimed Atwoli was fully aware of the alleged fictitious bank account since he participated in the opening of the account using the official details of COTU and they were together  with  his co- accused person project coordinator, Millicent Ngeso, who is charged alongside Ogutu. He said my Atwoli was carrying a leather brown briefcase.

The hearing continues.

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