How Sanlam top management sacrificed and jailed junior employees, will Justice be served?

Here is a chilling expose of how senior management officials at The Pan Africa Life Assurance limited, now Sanlam Kenya PLC, abused their offices to have junior officers jailed for the wrongs they did not do. Will Justice be served?

“In April 2014 I was working at Pan Africa Life Assurance Limited now (Sanlam Kenya) as a corporate business officer when I received a promotion to become the Unit Leader underwriting, Corporate Business.

As a corporate business officer I played the role of the department’s accountant and I had raised an issue with the finance department that was put in the minutes during the period the company was changing into a new system called ORFEO.

The issue was that once a claim was initiated and approved it would be placed in a series of EFT files that held all other company payments. In this remote file, all individuals in the company and anyone remotely linked could access these files and make changes to payee details. This remote file location could be accessed by, at the time, one user name and one password for all company payments.

That was the reason why I raised the issue of risk factor because it basically meant that anyone with the common user name and password could make a change on any EFT file and pay whoever they wanted; including anyone in south Africa which was where the central system was based.

In fact in addition to this issue I noticed that despite the change in EFT file; as long as the name remained and account was changed to a different individual the Standard Chartered (StanChart) home2bank system paid whatever amount was given into the account number without referencing to the account name. So this meant if the initial payment of let’s say Kshs. 10 million was being paid to Kengen of account 123456789 StanChart and anyone went to the EFT file and changed the account to Kengen account no 670956890 which belongs to an individual within StanChart say holding name of Mr. x then StanChart system would automatically pay the Mr. x account because the account number is its reference despite it having the name Kengen.

I raised this several times to my immediate boss Mr. Muiruri who raised it with finance general manager Mr. Stephen Kamanda and I also raised it with Mr. Kamanda but we were ignored. As a unit leader my work was to ensure that all data was in order and that all payments made were made to individuals and companies that were in our data and had paid premiums. Because as a corporate business officer I was expected to perform accounting duties. These duties I later transferred to one Hellen Irungu to do the uploads e.t.c; since she was now in charge of the EFT files uploads.

On a particular day, 3 claims landed on my desk. My job was to delegate to my team members who were to confirm if the claimants actually existed in our system.

So I delegated to one guy under me called Eric Mathenge to confirm that the said claims which had been outstanding since 2006 because of lack of documentation i.e. death certificate. Eric was to later confirm that the claimants existed in our database and I approved and pushed to the claims manager who paid based on receipt of relevant documentation.

These 3 claims were totalling to Kshs. 14million and were payable to Kengen, Kenya wildlife and Egerton university.

This was in September and it was corporate business practice to ensure that all claims had a turn-around time of 3 days from the date of claim lodgement. So on that particular 3rd day Hellen Irungu who was in charge of uploading all EFT to bank through the EFT file in the remote system (who had taken up my duties on my promotion) called her boss who was the unit leader for claims at 11am and said she had some urgent matter to attend to and requested that I assist as she was unavailable for the day. So I took the 3 claims and uploaded from the remote file directly to Standard Chartered Bank EFT payments. I later took the files for verification and approval to James Muiruri, the General Manager for Corporate Business, Stephen Kamanda, the General Manager in charge of finance and and Tom Gitogo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who once approved the claims were automatically paid to the institutions.

At the time of uploading the EFT files I did not realise that someone had changed the account number details to individual details of some three different individuals holding accounts with StanChart; who later received the amounts

Something happened and the Branch Manager called Florence Chao realised that some individuals within StanChart bank were in cahoots with some individuals from Pan Africa and had used system deficiencies to defraud Pan Africa.

I was arrested together with the claims manager and corporate business manager and charged with fraud in 10 different counts. Despite enough evidence of involvement of some staff in StanChart and bosses who approved the payment only the three of us who were non-Kikuyus were charged.

Pictures were taken of us in court initially and the court photographers for various media houses asked we pay them some money so as not to air our story because one of our bosses at Pan Africa had paid good money to have our pictures in the paper.

Needless to say we were maliciously charged, defamed on several papers over a course of 4 years that the case lasted and were unable to work based on the uniqueness of our names and highlight in papers.

Four years later the chief magistrate Milimani court Rose Anganyo fairly ruled that there was no evidence no witnesses ever appeared (in the charge sheets, there were 11 prosecution witnesses) and ruled to acquit us of all charges.

We immediately through our lawyers requested that Sanlam (formerly Pan Africa Life) pay us our wrongful termination benefits for summarily dismissing us without hearing our case on HR terms. But our requests were ignored and never replied to. So I went to court to sue Pan Africa and Attorney General for malicious prosecution, but the company claims they are not aware of our prosecution.

I am seeking justice because Sanlam is a powerful company and the main culprits held positions there until they were forced to resign following the fraud issue. Tom Gitogo later joined CIC and he was later accused by staff and it was news that he used sexual favours to grant jobs.

Me and my former accused have suffered greatly even after we were acquitted. Below is just a few of issues that affected us

I am unable to get any job as my name is on google related to the fraud and there is no news item showing I was acquitted.

I became mentally affected and suffered a mental breakdown where I was admitted and paid a lot of cash for treatment

I suffered at remand in Langata Women’s Prison for three long weeks while my family looked for 800k cash bail

My children were ridiculed in school

My lifestyle changed and I was forced to go back and live with my parents

I incurred huge legal fees

Both my colleagues are much older than me and so were basically breadwinners for their parents who died from various stress related ailments and both are now orphans.

These are but a few issues. I kindly request your media to help me air this issue so the real culprits can be known and Sanlam and government pays us for this malicious prosecution so we can at least redeem ourselves from hopeless future.”

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