Meru CEC risks facing jail sentence over Sh500 million Leopard Rock saga

Meru County Finance CEC Monica Kathoni risks facing a contempt of court sentence should the county fail to honor a deadline given in a court ruling that directed the county to pay more than Sh500 million owed to the proprietor of Leopard Rock Hotel by September 21.

In her ruling, Judge Wamae Cherere of the Meru High Courts suspended a previous sentencing for contempt of court to the County Secretary for Finance but granted an extension ending 31st July, 2023 to the accused to purge the contempt.

Judge Cherere faulted the County head of finance for disobeying a decree of Order for costs against the government issued in the matter in favour of the proprietor of the said facility from around November, 2022 despite being aware of the same.

Representing the accused, lawyer Ashaba of Mutuma & Gichuru Associate Advocates urged that the ruling be deferred as their client had proposed to pay Leopard Rock Hotel the amount as of July, 2023, an application that Mr. Wanyama of Manyonge Wanyama & Associates LLP, counsel for the hotelier, strongly opposed.   

On 25th April, 2023, Kathoni had appeared for examination and stated that she became aware of the decree in favour of the Leopard Rock Hotel sometimes in March, 2023.

She stated that she did not know how much was owed to the facility and that the claim was not approved in the supplementary budget thus is likely to be paid in the next financial year.

Leopard Rock Hotel ownership had sued the county government in the year 2019 after the administration of the then governor Kiraitu Murungi forcibly took over the lodge after issuing a second notice of termination of a lease contract with the hotelier.

In 2015, the administration of governor Peter Munya issued the same notice to the facility but was not executed.

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