All Africa Kenya

Kenya: Audit Reveals Theft of Musicians’ Royalties

An audit of organisations that collect royalties on behalf of musicians has revealed why Kenyan artistes have been receiving peanuts.

The scrutiny on Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (Prisk) and the Kenya Association of Music Producers (Kamp) was ordered by the Kenya Copyright Board, which licenses the bodies, commonly called collective management organisations or CMOs.

The forensic audit from 2017 to 2019 unearthed deep-rooted systemic inefficiencies. The findings are contained in a draft report received by Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) Chairman Mutuma Mathiu Tuesday.

The rot includes diversion of royalties, poor corporate governance structures, suspected fraudulent transactions, poor record-keeping and the existence of ghost or duplicate members.

The report also says the CMOs lack a number of critical policy documents, do not remit statutory deductions, have significant gaps in structure and administration and are negligent in asset management.

Risk of funds misappropriation

“The non-compliance exposes the three societies to serious risk of misappropriation of funds, civil and criminal liability and loss of income from penalties and sanctions,” said the statement.

Mr Mathiu said the Kecobo board of directors will hold a special meeting in the next two weeks to discuss what course of action to take.

“The Kenya Copyright Board is looking at several options in implementation of the results of the audit report — including reference to Criminal Investigation Department, recovery of lost property and further administrative, policy and structural reforms in the CMO sector, once we receive the mandatory response from the CMOs, thus completing the audit report,” he said.

Kecobo’s Executive Director Edward Sigei said the seven-day period given to the CMOs to respond started Tuesday.