Report from The Standard and Daily Nation
Professional valuers Monday said the Grand Regency Hotel was worth at least Sh4.5 billion, but in a new bizarre twist, it emerged yesterday that the hotel did change hands at Sh1.85 billion and not Sh2.9 billion. Earlier reports by the finance minister Amos Kimunya were proved wrong yesterday by evidence produced by his cabinet colleague, the Minister for Lands, James Orengo who uncovered newer details about the shady deal.
Mr. Orengo, who first blew the whistle over the secret sale, opened a new dimension by claiming that the firm that bought the hotel is indeed Kenyan and not Libyan as earlier claimed. A Libyan embassy official, Mr Ahmed Mabrouk, said the mission (Libyan Embassy) was not involved in the (shady) transaction, adding that the matter was purely between investors from his country and the Central Bank of Kenya.
Former Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi also stepped into the raging saga saying the sale was an unfortunate statement of impunity by Kimunya. He called for a revocation of the sale and the property returned to the public.
Addressing a press conference at Ardhi House, Lands Minister James Orengo also released pictures of the company directors one of whom is a well-known local contractor and has previously been involved in shady deals. The transfer was effected on June 20th this year and was witnessed by the CBK Governor Prof Njuguna Ndungu....Continues Below
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The minister said the company was incorporated and registered in Kenya. "Two characters are in the letters of transfer are indeed Kenyans," said Orengo.
The directors of Libyan Arab African Investments that bought the hotel, holder of Passport No 004428, holder of ID Card No 6104260, holder of Passport No 298071 and CBK Governor Njuguna Ndung’u who witnessed the sale agreement.
Orengo said it was clear from the documents that the deal was not between the Government of Kenya and the Libyan Government.
Orengo made the revelation against a backdrop of a flurry of activities at the Grand Regency Hotel as the new owners scrambled to formally take over the hotel. The hotel managers were kept busy the entire day and late into the night as they engaged in stocktaking.
Documents released last night by Orengo show that Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) sold the land and building to a locally registered company, Libyan Arab African Investments Company Kenya Limited.
Earlier, Mr Kimunya and his permanent secretary, Mr Joseph Kinyua, held talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga ahead of the committee meeting over the controversial sale of the hotel.
The directors — whose names were not appended — had their Identification and Passport Numbers listed as 6104260, 298071 and 001428.
The minister also revealed in the registration of title, a registrar at the Lands office — a Mr Mulee — changed the sum of figure from Sh2.5 billion to Sh1.85 billion without endorsing the changes.
Interestingly, one firm of advocates handled the sale transaction for both Central Bank of Kenya and the Libya Arab African Investment Company Kenya Limited.
Orengo said the firm of Wetangula, Adan, Makokha and Company Advocates was the same for the CBK and the new owners.
He stated that Attorney General would have been the one to act on behalf of the CBK (read Government) and not a private firm.
In the documents the Libyan Arab African Investment Company Kenya Limited has its registered office in Nairobi.
The hotel’s new owners officially installed a new Libyan financial controller, Mr Cairo Makhzoun Gilani and a Ugandan Chief Engineer, Mr John Kubarigire who supervised the stock taking exercise of all the hotel’s assets.
The new financial manager had visited a local bank earlier in the day for details on the hotel’s financial position. The take-over and the stock taking was being executed in a hurry against fears that the Lands Minister would cancel the deal and revert the hotel to Kenyans.
The new managers walked into the hotel in the morning, minutes after the workers were hurriedly told that new directors would be coming to the hotel, causing anxiety among the members of staff. To outsiders and visitors, the entry of the new managers went unnoticed.
Security Intelligence sources told the Standard that the formal hand-over was to take place at around midnight last night. "We are informed the handover ceremony will take place tonight (lastnight) but I do not think they have invited the media," said a security source that sought anonymity.
The hurried hand-over was being done against the backdrop of a cabinet sub-committee convened by Raila and which plans to grill Kimunya on the sale that has had the entire country focused on the matter.
The handover was also done on the eve of planned demonstrations by a section of MPs who plan to hold a protest march to register their displeasure at the controversial sale. Their attempt to hand over an application to the police at Central Police Station was snubbed and told the face the demo will not be allowed.
Attorney General Amos Wako also met with members of the Law Society of Kenya after which he demanded from Kimunya for all documents on the sale of the hotel. He said he needed to study the controversial sale to be able to give a concrete way forward on the same.
The chief Government advisor who was not party to the signing of the sale said he would advise Government accordingly on the action to be taken on the sale of the hotel that has put the Finance minister on the spot. He at the same time reiterated that businessmen Kamlesh Pattni has not been granted pardon and his court cases are still on track.
"The issue is being handled now by the Prime minister Raila Odinga. I assure you after receiving all the documents on the sale I will then tell you the action to take. I do not want to injure the advocate client confidentiality," he said.
Members of parliament led by North Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara plan to sponsor a censure motion against Kimunya in Parliament Tuesday afternoon. Imanyara said that they will move a motion of no confidence in Kimunya as Finance Minister and added that they have the support of Ministers, Assistant ministers and backbenchers.
"We will not allow him to continue enjoying the status of a Finance Minister since he lied to Parliament over the sale of the hotel,’’ Imanyara said.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Aides to Rogue Kenyan Finance Minister in Shady deal Paraded in Shame (List Includes Kenya’s Central Bank Governor)
Report from The Standard and Daily Nation