Friday, January 11, 2013
Agriculture minister dismisses allegations against coffee CEO
By MALUM NALU
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Assik-Tommy Tomscoll has dismissed allegations of mismanagement leveled at Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) chief executive officer Navi Anis by the CIC board.
In an eight-page letter to CIC board chairman Patrick Komba, dated January 8, 2013, Tomscoll said the serious allegations made against Anis by the CIC board since last August held no water and dismissed them all.
He said action would be taken against certain board members in due course.
There has been bad blood between the board and Anis since last August, with a series of letters written to Tomscoll, one of which went as far as recommending the CEO be suspended.
The letters, among other things, alleged lack of growth in the industry, deferral of board meetings, and non-performance by the CEO.
“In my qualified view, and assessment, all the allegations have no basis, are inconclusive, and not supportive by specific evidence to show criminal element of maladministration and misappropriation,” Tomscoll said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The National.
“I consider that all the allegations raised in your various letters are now settled and my decision will remain final.”
Tomscoll also asked why CIC board member Peter Kewa, who was one of those aggressively pushing for the removal of Anis, was doing this when he was one of those involved in the infamous Panga court case of the 1990s that cost the CIC millions of kina.
“I am frantically amazed that certain of your board members can proudly claim innocence and conveniently forget their involvement at board level to advance more than K10 million of growers’ monies to a failed scheme constructed by Panga Coffee Ltd,” he told Komba in the letter.
“This case was prolonged in court over a long period, resulting in more monies lost by CIC.
“Eventually, CIC was awarded more than K40 million for loss and damage but could not recoup this money because the company, Panga Coffee Ltd, was without asset.
“This matter affected a lot of growers and was partly responsible for the collapse of the industry, which others in later years spent valuable time resurrecting.
“I must say that I am too well aware of this fiasco.
“I am also aware that certain of the members of the board are not coffee growers or processors, and occupy positions at the board level under pretext.
“Anyway, these are matters I will deal with in the course of time, but meantime, I will deal with your board with the highest care, restraint, and caution.”