MCSK boss Mutua vows to sue KECOBO over claims of missing Ksh56M royalties

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 22 Feb, 2024 15:06 | 3 mins read
MCSK boss Mutua vows to sue KECOBO over claims of missing Ksh56M royalties
MCSK Chief Executive Officer Ezekiel Mutua in a past meeting. PHOTO/Ezekiel Mutua(@ezekielmutua_)/Instagram

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has threatened to drag the leadership of the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) to court over allegations of embezzlement of Ksh56 million in royalties collected in 2023.

KECOBO chairman Joshua Kutuny had on Wednesday, February 21 told the media that MCSK had failed to account for the millions collected last year on behalf of Kenyan artistes.

But in a statement on Thursday, MCSK Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ezekiel Mutua dismissed Kutuny's claims as wild allegations meant to incite unsuspecting musicians against the entity.

Mutua said he had instructed MCSK lawyers to take legal action against KECOBO for misinformation.

"MCSK takes a very serious view of the wild allegations by KECOBO - which are clearly meant to incite unsuspecting members to think that they have been short-changed. The Board has instructed our lawyers to take up the matter and bring this deliberate misinformation to an end. We assure the culprits that we shall meet in soon," Mutua stated.

Kutuny had told the media that the disparity in royalties declared by MCSK was flagged during a meeting with the board.

According to Kutuny, KECOBO had invited MCSK and two other licensed music Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) - Music Producers (KAMP) and the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) - to account for monies collected in 2023.

During the meeting, the board established that a sum of Ksh249,687,212.80 was collected jointly from January to December 2023.

The KECOBO boss noted that MCSK failed to account for Ksh26 million received from the joint collection and another Ksh30 million from other CMOs abroad and Google Ireland.

“While KAMP and PRISK declared a collection of Ksh.249 million and they accounted for Ksh.61 million and Ksh.52.7 million, respectively, MCSK on its part declared receipts of Ksh.109 million representing a shortfall of Ksh26 million,” Kutuny said in a statement.

Kutuny said the board had handed over the matter to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for investigation.

However, Mutua has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that MCSK continues to conduct its mandate transparently.

Mutua said MCSK is currently undertaking royalties distribution to its 16000 members in line with the law and MCSK distribution rules.

"Out of the three CMOs licensed by the Kenya Copyright Board for collection and distribution of royalties only MCSK is distributing. Yet we use the same system imposed on us by the regulator and share the revenue proportionate to our membership. How come no one has an issue with the ones who have not distributed? Is it a crime for MCSK to have taken the decision to distribute?" Mutua said.

" It must be stated that the information on the amount allocated for distribution was shared with MCSK members through the public notice and other platforms way before the distribution commenced and there was no objection or query on the amount and the criteria to be used."

Mutua further accused the government of meddling with the affairs of a private entity instead of creating a conducing environment for the collection of royalties.

"There's a lot of money from other revenue streams like Skiza Tunes, streaming services and concerts that would benefit artists if the Government provided proper policies for monitisation of content. The work of the Government is to provide a conducive environment for private companies like MCSK to thrive. The Government should not meddle with the internal affairs of a private entity," he added as he urged the government to step up compliance efforts.

"From our accounts which have been corroborated by KECOBO, compliance was about 10 per cent in 2023. It's the Government's business to enforce the law. We are appealing for police enforcement to deal with defaulters and collect over Ksh2B owed by different users of copyrighted musical works."

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