Two Days after protesters picketed outside London’s Standard Chartered and Barclays Bank calling off the banks support to BIDCO on claims that its violating the environemnt rules by engaging in deforestation, the cooking oil company has finally responded to them.
Bidco Africa has said that the protesters are con artists trying to blackmail the company.
The company says it has been fighting an anonymous and faceless group of online con artists masquerading as activists for over a year.
They say the group has been harassing the company and its partners on social media and via email. It has also been staging fake protests in various locations. The London Protests lack credibility according to the company.
Bodies For Hire
“These guys are just bodies for hire. If you watch the video the incredible thing is they cannot even get the company name right. They are protesting against ‘Bisco’ and ‘Vamil Shah’, that tells you all you need to know about these people,” CEO Vimal Shah explains.
According to Vimal, the protesters at one point asked for 500,000 USD to stop the harassment but they refused hence their persistence.
“There is no activism here. We know who is behind it and what they hope the pressure will lead to but we will not buckle. We will not give in to extortion” he clarifies.
In addition, he makes it open that KEPSA, the apex private sector body in Kenya received emails from the group but when they invited them to present evidence-no one showed up.
“We asked them to come forward and prove their claims but have heard nothing from them since,” the CEO Carole Kariuki says.
“We also know they have been approaching PR agencies in Nairobi trying to recruit them to run a smear campaign against. We have this information.”
Clean Bill of Health
Bidco Africa insists the claims made by so called activists are outright lies and distortion of facts. The claims of deforestation are manifestly untrue. “No forests were taken in Uganda, there have been four independent Environmental Impact Assessments done and they all give the project a clean bill of health.
On the question of land, out of 9000 hectares acquired for the project, there is only one dispute with one farmer who was a squatter on someone’s land and the case is in court,” Kodey Rao the Bidco Uganda Managing Director says ( The Uganda unit has different ownership and management from its Kenyan counterpart.)
“1750 farmers earned 1.5 Billion Ugandan Shillings last month, I wish someone could talk about that and how their lives have changed, the houses they have built, the cars they have bought and how they are taking their children to private universities,” he adds.
“Or the 44 Million USD that has gone into infrastructure on the island, the jobs, the tourism and the total economic transformation of the district. It used to be one of the poorest in the country, position 71 out of 76 and that is now one of the top ten in the country.”
The company says its labour record is being misrepresented. “The pictures you see on social media are a big joke. There are 1800 employees at Bidco HQ – If they go on the streets to protest, everyone will know. It won’t be 10 or 20 guys.” Zipporah Mburu the executive in charge of Employee Welfare says.
“It’s annoying to see people who have never even set foot in Bidco purporting to represent our interests,” Linus Muendo a union rep at the company says.
“They know nothing about the company and how we live.” Vimal Shah says the allegations of tax evasion the most saddening.
“We are a proudly Kenyan company. We gladly pay on average about 70M USD a year in taxes and just because we have one dispute over the computation of one tax bill we are bad guys. The case is in court, why not let the courts decide?”
In the meantime the CEO says there are plenty of other things to talk about. “Talk about the 4,500 entrepreneurs who form our supply chain or the 12,000 plus farmers who have a guaranteed market for their farm produce. Or our investments in new industries and technologies. That’s what Bidco is really about.”