Kenya drops charges against Morocco's OCP in mercury fertilizer case

Charges against Morocco’s OCP branch in Kenya were dropped in mercury fertilizer case. The decision was taken after parties involved in the case reached an agreement.

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Kenya drops charges against OCP Kenya. / Ph. DR

The Kenyan Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has dropped on Thursday, May 9, criminal charges against OCP Kenya, a branch of Morocco’s Office chérifien des phosphates, and four people linked to the substandard consignment scam.

According to Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, the DPP terminated the case, that has been running for months, after the parties involved in it managed to «enter a plea-bargaining agreement».

In addition to that, the Director of Public Prosecutions in Kenya agreed to release OCP Kenya’s consignment held at a warehouse in Mombasa on condition that the Moroccan firm «withdraws an application for the retesting of the commodity», the same source revealed.

«It is agreed between the parties and the DPP that the investigating officer shall concurrently release the impounded consignment of fertilizer held at Bollore warehouse in Mombasa to OCP (K)», indicated the agreement quoted by Daily Nation.

A long-running case

Indeed, for months, OCP Kenya insisted that its commodity be retested after Kenyan authorities alleged that it was «contaminated or substandard». The decision was taken after the Moroccan exporter refused the results of the first tests conducted in June 2018, arguing that they «were conducted by a multi-agency team in the absence of the accused persons and that this violated their rights».

However, the retesting has never taken place. As previously reported by Yabiladi, the order to retest OCP’s fertilizer was issued in January 2019, but the collection of french samples was delayed several times.

According to OCP Kenya lawyer Paul Muite, the procedure ordered by the court in January, was reportedly retarded by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), an agency that is responsible for the assessment, collection and accounting for all revenues that are due to the Kenyan government. 

In February, OCP Kenya lawyer accused two other governmental agencies in Mombasa of neglecting a court's order on the collection of fresh samples of the firm’s fertilizer. His demands were neglected by the court, which stressed that «the previous order for the two agencies to go for the tests was erroneous».

Although charges against OCP Kenya and four officials were dropped, seven other suspects in the case, including former Kenya Bureau of Standards MD Charles Ongwae, will proceed with hearing. They are accused of unlawfully releasing 5,846,000 kgs of substandard compound fertilizer, which «contained mercury, to OCP-K».

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