5 man team to probe Grand saga

July 1, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 1 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has formed a five-member committee to evaluate the documents and information surrounding the controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.

The body will be chaired by Attorney General Amos Wako and is expected to present Odinga with a detailed report on the issue on Wednesday afternoon.

Addressing the media after chairing a three-hour meeting of a cabinet sub-committee for Finance, Administration and Planning, Odinga said the report would then be discussed in a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

“We have received a lot of information on this matter including a lot of documents. I want it to be known that this government takes issues of disposal of public property very seriously and that we will get to the bottom of this matter,” the premier stated.

Other members of the committee include Cabinet Ministers Mutula Kilonzo and James Orengo, Kenya Anti Corruption Commission boss Justice Aaron Ringera and the Chief Administrator at the PM’s office Karoli Omondi.

He warned Cabinet Ministers against issuing public statements on the saga.

Odinga stated: “We don’t want to see Cabinet members contradicting each other in public. It casts the government in very negative light and we want them to share any information that they have.”

“As I have said nobody is indispensable, not Raila Odinga, not the President,” he added. “We are not going to keep any information away from the public.”

The sale of the hotel has elicited angry reactions across the country with heightened calls for the sacking of Finance Minister Amos Kimunya.

Backbenchers in Parliament interrupted debate touching on Kimunya’s Ministry on Tuesday to protest the Minister’s conduct, and insisted that a motion seeking to censure him be debated.

Temporary Speaker Gitobu Imanyara approved the motion, while Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said the House Business Committee would meet on Tuesday evening to decide when it would be debated.

Orengo promised to issue a ministerial statement on the sale of the hotel on Wednesday, adding that he had already instituted measures to block further transactions involving the plot on which the hotel stands.

Earlier in the day the backbenchers led hundreds of their supporters and human rights activists in a peaceful demonstration to protest the sale.
Police had outlawed the march on Monday, but did not disperse the demonstrators, who vowed that the protests would continue until Kimunya is sacked or resigns voluntarily.
The hotel was formerly owned by businessman Kamlesh Pattni, who was once arrested and charged for defrauding the government through his Goldenberg International Company Limited (GIL).
It was later taken over by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), which was seeking to recover Sh2.5 billion owed to it by GIL.
Kimunya admitted last week to having facilitated the transfer of the hotel to Libyan investors at a cost of Sh2.9 billion, causing major uproar in the country.

However, Orengo insisted on Monday that the hotel was sold to a Kenyan-registered firm, Libyan Arab African Investment Company Kenya Limited, and not to the Libyan government, for Sh1.85 billion.

Wako has also stated that he was not consulted during the sale of the Grand Regency, which Kimunya has insisted was done in an open and transparent manner.

The Finance Minister is facing even more criticism over the manner in which he handled the money printing contact with De La Rue Company.

He has also been on the spotlight over the Safaricom Initial Public Offering and the presupposed continued payment of huge sums of money to companies linked to the Anglo Leasing scandal.


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