Embattled Law Society of Kenya (LSK) CEO Mercy Wambua has dismissed allegations by the society president Nelson Havi as false and fabricated that she is frustrating plans for a planned audit on the use of funds.
In a letter addressed to LSK members detailing financial statements of the society and status update on the appointment of forensic auditor on Monday, Wambua accused Havi of failing to undertake simple due diligence before issuing what she termed as alarming press statement which contained incorrect assertions.
“Alternatively, the president was aware of the true position but intended to raise unnecessary alarm and anxiety,” Wambua said in a letter dated August 8, 2021.
“The Council would like to clarify that it is more than ready to subject the financial statements of the society to a forensic audit, as long as the right procedure is followed in procuring the forensic auditor,” she added.
On July 10, Havi, in a statement read at the society's headquarters in Nairobi, accused Ms Wambua of staying in office illegally, colluding with banks to deny members statements of expenditure and for failing to change signatories to banks in which accounts of the society are domiciled.
“Mercy Wambua has unlawfully remained in office and continues to frustrate service delivery to members and disseminating unauthorised and false information to members. Further, she has persisted in her interference with the preparatory process towards the conduct of the forensic audit and disclosure of the accounts of the society,” Havi alleged.
According to him, the LSK president said that attempts by the society to access bank statements and documents for a planned audit had been frustrated by the CEO, who despite an earlier resolution by members to send her on compulsory leave, had refused to vacate office.
Havi said that letters and notices sent to the said institutions were always countermanded by the CEO, who for fear of the planned audits, advised banks against releasing statements on the accounts belonging to the society.
“It is evident that there is an entrenched relationship between Mercy Wambua and officers in all banks where accounts of the society are domiciled,” said Havi.
In a rebuttal, Wambua noted that the Council is not only committed to ensuring a professional forensic audit is conducted so as to settle any concerns over management and accountability of members funds but remains focused, apolitical, accountable and respectful.
“Council implores upon the President to abandon his aggressive campaign of misinformation, alarming and sensational conjectures and join it in recruiting and appointing professional forensic auditors with a view of testing the Society’s accountability mechanisms for the good of the LSK,” she noted.
On July 15th, 2021, the Council wrote to the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAK) requesting for the Institute to appoint a forensic auditor after disputes arose in the manner of appointing the auditor to undertake the forensic audit leading to suits, currently pending in court.
“We request that you kindly recommend an auditor to the council. The recommended firm shall be ratified by members during a special General meeting,” LSK’s letter addressed to ICPAK CEO Edwin Makori read in part.
However, On July 16th, 2021 ICPAK wrote to the Council indicating that as a regulator, the institute could not appoint an auditor on behalf of the Society but provide a list of auditors in good standing for consideration by the Council.
“In light of the foregoing, the Council will consider the list presented by ICPAK and further advice on the way forward, ahead of the upcoming Special General Meeting of Members,” the letter says.
It adds: “The Council has requested to be supplied with certified copies of ALL the bank statements of the Law Society of Kenya Bank Accounts and Mpesa PayBill Statements for the period 2016 to date and forwarded the request letters for signing by the Vice President Ms. Carolyne Kamende on July 19, 2021.”
However, according to the letter, Ms. Kamende is yet to sign the relevant letters to facilitate the issuance of certified copies of the bank statements.
“The statements shall be shared with members and the appointed forensic auditor, upon receipt,” Wambua noted.
According to the CEO, the Council has requested to be provided with Mpesa statements for all the LSK Mpesa PayBill accounts which are automatically archived by Safaricom after every six months and the same will be shared with members as soon as the same are received.
“All the Society’s bank statements have been shared with the independent statutory auditors each year and the balances disclosed in the financial reports,” the letter to members reads.
“The auditors further undertake direct confirmations from the banks for the various accounts, information which is sent directly to them,” it adds.
Havi and Wambua have been embroiled in a leadership wrangle dating back last year, after Havi accused the CEO of abetting corruption and misusing funds of the society.
Wambua was later sent on compulsory leave by Havi, a decision that was vetoed by a section of the council members before the matter moved to court.
The LSK president would later call for the expulsion of eight members of the council who vetoed the decision and sided with the CEO, accusing them of insubordination.
That decision, however, was again quashed by the courts, pending the determination of the disputes within the society by the courts.