Jared Odero Says Former KUWA Officials Stole SEK 1,000 from Him
Jared Odero, a Kenya-Stockholmer, has accused former officials of the Kenya United Welfare Association (KUWA) of stealing SEK 1,000 from him. In a Kenyan email Forum managed by the Kenya Support Network in Sweden (KESNET), Jared alleged that the officials stole his money after allegedly collecting cash from members under the pretext of setting up a fund which he did not name. While attacking one former KUWA official who is a member of the email list, Jared wrote:
“In KUWA, (the defunct Kenya United Welfare Association), you and your ilk confiscated my 1000kr that was supposed to build up a voluntary fund for the members. You and fellow officials thereafter went ahead to create a policy that once money had been deposited, there would be no refund, yet that was not a policy until I decided to quit, for clear reasons”.
The Committee, which Jared has accused, was in Office in 1999 and comprised Jared Aroka (Chairman), Joseph Goga (Treasurer) and Okoth Osewe (Secretary). Other Committee members were: Ken Aroka, Laban Mberi, Otieno Goga, Peter Gitau, Antony Adiwa and Wyckliff Odhiambo.
It is not the first time that Jared is accusing the former KUWA Committee members of stealing his money. In several of his drinking sprees, Jared has been maligning the names of the former Committee members with gusto and since no former Committee member has had the opportunity to put the record straight, it is important that developments during this period be revisited as legal action is considered by members whose names Jared continues to malign without evidence.
The Fund’s Establishment
The Fund Jared is referring to was called “The Kenya Mutual Assistance Fund (KMAS)” and was established by KUWA members in 1998 to promote the economic interests of members. Although Jared says that the fund was set up by the Committee, the truth is that the Fund was set up by KUWA members at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 1998 and Jared Odero is one of the key members who supported the Fund idea. Commenting on the Fund in KUWA Bulletin (a monthly publication that was being produced by KUWA) dated February 1999, Jared was quoted thus:
“Mr. Jared Odero, another KUWA member who has worked within KUWA Committee, said that it is time for the Association to move forward, adding that the fund idea is a step in the right direction. The Association needs to constitute a group of serious members who are interested in acting upon the idea” he said.
From the fore-going, Jared’s allegation that the Fund was set up by the Committee is not correct and is designed to character assassinate Committee members who were by then in Office. Although the Fund idea was mooted by members in 1998, discussions continued within the KUWA membership for almost 2 years before it was finally established.
At an AGM held in November 1999, members finally decided that an independent bank account would be opened to help run the fund. At this AGM, the KUWA leadership also changed as Laban Mberi became the new KUWA Chairman, Mark Gaya (Vice Chairman), Okoth Osewe (Secretary), Kenneth Wamburi (Vice Secretary), Jared Odero (Treasurer), Peter Kimani (Vice Treasurer) with Enock Otuga, Faith Arodi and Antony Adiwa as ordinary Committee members. The launching of the Fund account was captured in a subsequent issue of KUWA Bulletin dated January 2000 as follows.
“Plans for the launching of the KUWA Mutual Assistance Fund have now been completed. This follows a final discussion about the Fund that was held at KUWA’s Annual General Meeting held in November last year. A general program of the Fund had been circulated to KUWA members to enable them study the document. At the AGM, the Fund document was ratified after it was amended by members, opening the establishment of an independent bank account for the Fund”.
The Fund’s Bank Account
According to the document that formed the foundation of the Mutual Fund account, membership fees for the Fund was SEK 1,000 which was non-refundable. Once an individual became a member, he/she would begin buying shares within the Fund which operated on a non-profit basis. Section 2 of the Fund document stated as follows: “To become a share-holder, a member will have to pay a non-refundable fee of 1,000 Crowns which would go towards the building of the Kenya Mutual Assistance Fund’s capital base”. This document was thoroughly discussed by members and Jared was one of the leading discussants. The “Non-refund” rule was not therefore created after Jared quit KUWA but form the core of a discussion document that was ratified by members at an AGM.
Additionally, Jared’s accusation that the Committee stole his money is false because at the time the fund was set up, he was the Treasurer. In March 2000, a bank account for the fund was opened at Föreningsparbanken AB with account number being 8327-9,994684 530-3. As the Treasurer, Jared was a signatory to the account. The opening of the account was captured in a headline story of KUWA Bulletin as follows:
“A Bank account for the Kenya Mutual Assistance Fund has been opened. The Account number 8327-9,994684 530-3 was opened at Föreningsparbanken AB. The opening of the account paves the way for KUWA members to start buying shares in the KUWA share programme whose details are available from the Association. Speaking to KB, Mr. Laban Mberi, KUWA Chairman, said that the Fund will be inaugurated officially at a date to be announced later.
The essence of these developments is that the establishment of the KUWA Mutual Assistance Fund was a transparent process and members were constantly informed about events. With three signatories to the account, it was virtually impossible for any single member to withdraw funds from the account neither was it possible for a group of Committee members to do so because all transactions were posted to the Associations Post Box with mails being handled by the Secretary who was a non-signatory.
After the Fund was set up, registration was opened and the first eight members to register were all Committee members. It is at this point that Jared also paid his SEK 1,000 membership fees. As per the rules, all members understood that the registration fees was non-refundable. Then suddenly, Jared started becoming problematic in the Committee. He began being petty.
For example, he used his University student status to view himself as more important than other Committee members especially those who had never been to University. Although the Committee managed to cope with much of his theatrics, it reached a point when he demanded that Committee members must use email as the official form of communication instead of making phone calls. It was the year 2000 and email was still a new phenomenon which some Committee members were still not accustomed to. When he was ignored, Jared resigned, much to the relief of Committee members. His resignation was captured in the summer issue of KUWA Bulletin (July-September 2000) as follows:
“Mr. Jared Odero, KUWA Treasurer, has resigned from KUWA Committee citing “lack of proper communication” in the Committee. It was the third time Mr. Odero had resigned from the Committee since the Association was founded in September 1996.
In 1997, Mr. Odero resigned from the Committee before withdrawing his resignation almost immediately. A few months later, Mr. Odero resigned from the Committee once again, citing “personal reasons”. The Kenyan was re-elected into the Committee during the last Annual General Meeting and later appointed as the Association’s Treasurer.
All of Mr. Odero’s past resignations came via email. Just like in the previous cases, Mr. Odero’s latest resignation came without him taking a single discussion with the Committee.
Responding to the new situation, Mr. Laban Mberi, KUWA Chairman, regretted Mr. Odero’s abrupt resignation and hoped that in future, Mr. Odero will find the environment in the Committee conducive enough for him to serve the organization once again. Mr. Mberi thanked Mr. Odero for services he had rendered to the Association and hoped that he will be productive as an ordinary KUWA member.
In the meantime, Mr. Peter Gitau, KUWA’s Vice Treasurer, has taken over as the new Treasurer. The Association is working on modalities so that Mr. Odero can hand over to the new Treasurer as soon as possible”.
KLB Flexes Muscles
Once he resigned, Mr. Odero opened a war with both the KUWA Committee and the KUWA Loans Board that was in charge of advancing short-term loans to members for various reasons. Mr. Odero’s beef was that he wanted his membership registration fees refunded despite the fact that the rules stated clearly that this money was non-refundable.
When his case came before the KUWA Loans Board, it was dismissed. In a story captured in KUWA Bulletin dated January 2001 and titled “KUWA Loans Board flexes muscles”, reasons as to why Odero’s request for refund had been turned down were clearly stated. Here is the whole entry:
“The KUWA Loans Board (KLB) that manages the KUWA Mutual Assistance Fund has dismissed a request by a former member who wanted the Board to refund him 1,000 kr he paid to become a member of the fund. The case has been pending before the board for four months.
According to a decision that has already been circulated to the Kenyan, the request for the refund was turned down because such a move could have violated section 2 of the Fund program that says: “To become a share-holder, a member will have to pay a non-refundable fee of 1,000 Crowns which will go towards the building of Kenya Mutual Assistance Fund’s capital base”.
In turning down the request, the Board noted that making such a refund would also have undermined the confidence of both members of the Fund and prospective members.
“If a refund were to be made, it would create a situation where members would demand similar refunds in the future. This is a precedent that the Board cannot set because it carries with it the danger of causing the fund to collapse especially if members of the fund use such a precedent to argue their cases in the future”, the Board noted.
The Fund program provides for submission of appeals in cases that have been handled by KLB and where the complainant is not satisfied with the decision. Such appeals have to be submitted to the KUWA Complaints Commission (KCC) within a period of three weeks from the date of the decision.
The affected Kenyan, who has not bought any shares in the Fund, has been given the option of submitting his appeal.
KLB has appealed to Kenyans to try and understand the Fund before they join it in order to avoid unnecessary inconveniences”.
Jared never appealed. Despite his University student status, he seems to have joined the Fund without understanding the rules despite the fact that he was part of the discussions for two years. Today, he loiters around pubs and drinking dens claiming that KUWA Committee members stole his money.
At 54+ Jared should find better things to do instead of spreading propaganda and cheap gossip about former KUWA Committee members and other Kenyans around Stockholm. Events in KUWA were well documented and attempts to twist or distort the facts to reduce the credibility of former Committee members will be exposed. If he has fallen out with everybody in Stockholm because of his foul-mouth, he should question himself and try to re-organize his life. It’s not too late. Further information will be availed if necessary.
Former KUWA Secretary