Anti-Counterfeit Agency Under Fire As War On Illicit Brews Continues

Anti-Counterfeit Agency ACA Chairman Polycarp Igathe Speaking at World Anti-Counterfeit Day WACD 2015 Event in Mombasa Kenya

Earlier this year, we discussed the successes of Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) in thwarting judicial review proceedings filed against it in two separate cases namely “Omega Dustless Chalk” and “Zero B”. However, some of the allegations leveled against ACA in these cases raised eyebrows over the state of affairs at ACA. A welcomed development for ACA came with the recent appointment of Mr. Polycarp Igathe (pictured above) as the new Chairman of ACA Board of Directors. Igathe, CEO of Vivo Energy and formerly Chairman of Kenya Association of Manufacturers, is highly respected in the private sector and said to be committed to the fight against counterfeits in Kenya. Following Igathe’s appointment, ACA made news headlines when it announced that it had decided to send four of its senior officers on compulsory leave over allegations of gross misconduct.

According to media reports, ACA Acting Executive Director Dr. John Akoten explained that the decision to suspend the officers was reached following numerous complaints from manufacturers, specifically, owners of intellectual property rights, against some of the enforcement officers who are allegedly engaged in misconduct and defeating the very purpose for which they were engaged in combating counterfeiting. The ACA officers sent on compulsory leave include; Deputy Director for Enforcement, Prosecution and Legal Services Mr. Johnson Adera, Assistant Director for Enforcement Mr. Abdikadir Mohamed, Anti-Counterfeit Inspector II Mr. Weldon Kiprotich Sigei and Anti-Counterfeit Inspector I, Mr. Sammy Arekai Sarich. ACA has warned members of the public and business community against conducting any transactions with any of the suspended officers.

According to recent media reports, ACA has been dragged to court once again – this time courtesy of cooking gas dealers. It is reported that ACA’s enforcement actions are driving small dealers out of business as ACA officers raid their premises and confiscate refilled and empty gas cylinders. Further, it is reported that ACA officers had blocked dealers from accessing their gas depot to transact various businesses. ACA is reportedly facing two other similar suits filed by gas dealers in different parts of the country. See ruling in the case of Hassan Elmi & 4 others v Anti-Counterfeit Agency [2015] eKLR available here.

Readers of this blog will recall that around this time last year, the Government interdicted 52 of its officers over the death of 81 people in Central and Eastern provinces following consumption of illicit brew. Last year, media reports here and here indicated that the ACA Acting CEO was suspended for ACA’s “failure to enforce standards and regulations” thereby ” allowing the counterfeit to trade”. The ACA Acting CEO was later reinstated according to this report.

This year’s crackdown on illicit brews has brought the role of ACA into sharp public focus. According to a recent media report here, ACA is accused of being disjointed in its enforcement approach and failing to work effectively with other key state bodies such as Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) among others. A separate media report here indicates that the trade unions have challenged the Government to extend the on-going crackdown on all illicit brews to counterfeit goods as well in order to protect jobs, revenues to the government and the Kenyan consumers from hazardous goods.

ACA has remained relatively mum even as the calls for action continue to grow. This blogger wishes ACA well as it puts its own house in order and hopefully steps up its fight against fakes.

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