Investigations into the conduct of suspended Media Max Limited boss Ken Ngaruiya have roped in a number of radio presenters at the company.
This is after auditors who are camping at the DSM Place, the headquarters of the Kenyatta family owned company raised questions on the credibility of some lotteries that its radio stations have been running.
The Mediamax media stable include K24 TV, Kameme TV, Kameme FM, Milele FM, Msenangu FM, Emoo FM, Mayian FM, Meru FM, People Daily newspaper and two websites — www.k24tv.co.ke and www.pd.co.ke.
Insiders say that the company’s chairman and former Taita Taveta governor Granton Samboja held a meeting with Kameme and Milele Fm bosses where the matter of running fake lotteries was greatly discussed.
During the meeting which took place on January 3, the conduct of the now suspended CEO whose reign was charactarised by micro management of departments and creation of a toxic work environment was discussed.
Funny enough, Ngaruiya who was sent on forced leave to pave way for investigations into his conduct on December 27 tried to show that he was still in charge at the turn of the New Year.
“As we embark on our 2023 journey and in the spirit of unity of purpose it is important to note that all business instructions and direction come from the office of the CEO through the respective team leaders, managers and supervisors, he said in a memo sent on January 1,” he instructed.
“In case of any other instructions please clear them with the same office,” he said.
Our sources say that he later denied sending that memo whose purpose was to show that he was still in charged of the company as he wants his suspension to remain a secret.
Yet as investigations gather pace, sources within the board say it is highly unlikely that Ngaruiya who has worked at the company for more that 15 years will make a come back.
Before being sent on compulsory leave, the board asked him why he has put journalists on 50 percent pay for three years when all media houses have reinstated full salaries, a question he was unable to answer.
What angered the board the most is that when journalists are surviving on half pay citing a tough working environment, the company has been leaking money in the millions to individuals pockets.
Financial impropriety and high handedness aside, the matter of running fake lotteries by some of the company’s radio stations if proven true will be the last nail on the coffin.
A number of leading presenters have already been questioned and it appears that the noose is tightening at a frightening pace for those who may have been involved.
The issue of fake lotteries is not something new. Almost every vernacular radio station in the country runs a version of a lottery where listeners are asked to send money in the hope of winning millions.
In the pursuit of quick wealth, Kenyans in the rural areas send their hard earned money. Some dubious radio stations however choose fake winners and give them some part of the publicly announced money that they have ‘won’ and then pocket the rest.
Additionally there has been a concern on how winners are selected, with many saying it is a money-making venture for the stations and owners of the Pay Bill numbers who are usually kept in the background.
In 2021 the Betting Licencing Control and Licencing Board (BCLB) banned radio stations from running lotteries and prize competitions following rampant fraud.
In a statement, Director-General Peter Mbugi said the board aims at ensuring that gaming activities are conducted with due process, crime-free and members of the public protected from fraud.
“In the recent past, the operation of Prize Competition and short term lotteries has experienced some level of abuse where permit/license holders instead of carrying out lotteries themselves, they enter into an agreement with media stations (especially radio) to undertake the same including conducting draws on their behalf,” Mbugi stated.
The ban however did not last long as rich and powerful media owners managed to arm twist the BCLB.