Judge nullifies firing of Ciano as Uchumi CEO

A court has awarded former Uchumi Supermarket #ticker:UCHM CEO Jonathan Ciano Sh6.5 million for leave days, gratuity and unused leave days, terming his sacking seven years ago invalid.

Mr Ciano was sacked in June 2015 on allegations of gross misconduct and negligence that left the listed retailer owing suppliers Sh1 billion.

He sought Sh47.4 million from Uchumi in terminal benefits and compensatory damages arising from his dismissal, which he termed unfair, unlawful, and inhumane terms.

High Court judge Stella Rutto said the dismissal was invalid because Mr Ciano had resigned two days before his ouster.

She added that court didn’t establish that Mr Ciano’s ouster was unlawful, and could not award him damages.

“The court arrives at the determination that Mr Ciano effectively resigned on June 13, 2015 and his subsequent termination on June 15, 2015 by Uchumi Supermarkets Limited was null and void,” said Justice Rutto.

“There was nothing to terminate. Mr Ciano had fired the first salvo and effectively extinguished the contract of employment. The termination by Uchumi was akin to flogging a dead horse.”

She awarded Sh6.5 million in terminal dues for Ciano’s June salary, 24 unused leave days and gratuity.

“As there has been no finding on unlawful termination, the claim for compensatory damages cannot be sustained,” said the judge.

In 2018, Mr Ciano was freed of a two-year legal burden after the High Court dismissed fraud charges against him over a flawed Sh895 million cash call in 2014.

The judge found that Mr Ciano had been taken through a faulty disciplinary process, saying that the regulator had not furnished the former Uchumi boss with the required information in time to enable him prepare for his defence.The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) had based its charges on a forensic audit report by KPMG, which found, among others, that Mr Ciano and his wife were among Uchumi’s largest vegetable suppliers.Mr Ciano did not ask for more time to prepare his defence.The regulator had hit Mr Ciano with a Sh5 million penalty for the loss that his actions were deemed to have caused shareholders and sought to seize some Sh13.5 million as proceeds of crime because he failed to declare a conflict of interest to the Uchumi board.Mr Ciano, who helped revive Uchumi in 2006 when it was put in receivership and given a government-led bailout, was ousted along with the chief finance officer after the retail chain fell behind on supplier payments.In June 2015 the board was […]

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