Vicious battle: MCSK accuse Kecobo boss of stealing 100m. He responds
Defiant Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has continued its barrage of attacks against Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and its chief Edward Sigei now accusing him of embezzling Sh100 million of Kenyan musicians’ money.
MCSK Chief Executive Officer Dr Ezekiel Mutua claims the KECOBO Executive Director, whom he accuses of high-handedness, used the money to build himself a palatial home and a hotel.
This all started last week when KECOBO wrote to MCSK to notify the Collective Management Organization (CMO) that it had declined its request for a 2023 license.
The regulator cited a number of issues for its decision, saying MCSK did not furnish it with the list of beneficiaries and amounts paid in royalties last year, an audited financial statement for the period up to June 2022 and failure by the CMO to provide an authenticated list of members.
“As such KECOBO was unable to process MCSK’s application as I cannot ascertain the CMOs capacity to manage the royalties for authors, composers, arranger, and publisher category of members through a full review and analysis of the documents of application presented.” Mr Sigei stated in the letter obtained by Nairobi News.
Having denied MCSK the application, KECOBO ordered MSCK to stop collecting music royalties from its 16,000 members immediately.
But in a rejoinder, MCSK through Mutua, has defied the orders insisting it will go on with the collection of royalties with or without KECOBO’s license approval.
“Please take not that MCSK is not currently collecting royalties on the basis of a license from KECOBO but on the basis of the Court of Appeal in Nairobi in Civil application No. E395 2022 that authorized MCSK to continue collecting royalties until expedited hearing of Civil Appeal No E888 of 2022 which will be set down for hearing in February 2023,” Dr Mutua stated.
The former Kenya Film Classification Board chief launched an attack on of Sigei accusing him of high-handedness in running KECOBO and corruption.
“Your purported decision to deny MCSK a license as well as your unilateral, draconian and illegal orders for MCSK to ease collection is laughable, null and void and amounts to abuse of office and contempt of Court order,” Dr Mutua stated.
Dr Mutua claims Mr Sigei has been persistently trying to micro-manage and bully the Collective Management organizations in Kenya to do his bidding for the last ten years he has held office.
The MCSK chief further claimed that Mr Sigei has been trying to introduce a new licensing system to be run and managed by his proxy.
“In the fullness of time your constant interference with CMO operations, your conflict of interest in the operations of CMOs for your own personal gain will be made bare. We have reports of solicitation of bribes and conflict of interest that makes you want to introduce a new licensing system.”
MCSK claims it already has information about how Mr Sigei is playing his cards, and it’s the sole reason he finds excuses to deny the CMO an operating license.
“We are informed that this is the reason why on 6th January 2023 you instructed Mr Sidney Wachira, CEO Expedia Limited the operators of the current joint licensing system to shut it down.”
The system was procured jointly by MCSK, the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK).
Mutua went on to allege that the end game for Mr Sigei pans is to cause a scenario like one he did in 2017.
“It’s shall be recalled that MCSK used to collect and pay royalties on time until 2017 when you illegally took away MCSK’s CMO license and gave it to Music Publishers Association of Kenya (MPAKE) who for the period they existed collected over Sh100 million and never distributed a coin to the artistes. We have called for investigations into the allegation that this is the money you shared to build a home and a hotel.”
Two weeks ago, MCSK had written a letter to the Ombudsman (Commission on Administrative justice) calling for removal of Mr Sigei from office.
In the letter addressed to Ms. Mercy Kalondu Wambua, the Commission Secretary and CEO, Dr Mutua cited several claims including soliciting of Sh1 million bribe by Sigei from the directors of MCSK.
When Nairobi News reached out to Mr Sigei he branded Dr Mutua, a coward and asked him to table his evidence to the relevant authorities.
“I think it would be good to present the evidence to the necessary authorities. I am keen to know dates, amounts, reasons, and names of Directors whom I solicited from so that I can verify and allow the authorities or myself to seek an account. I consider the allegations defamatory and an act of cowardice. There are legitimate platforms and standards to address denial of license issues,” Sigei said.