, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 28 – Cabinet Minister Moses Wetangula has now admitted that his former law firm was involved in the Sh800 million transaction for an oil block in Turkana.
The newly appointed Trade Minister however said that he retired from the firm – that he established in 1983 – nine years ago, when he was first appointed to the Cabinet.
He told Capital FM News that he does not enjoyed any financial benefits from the firm, which however continues to bear his name, since he is no longer a partner.
“I don’t go to that office. In fact, I don’t practice law anymore. And for your information I have a daughter and a son who are lawyers but they don’t even work for that law firm. So where do I come in?” he asked.
Wetangula further refuted claims that he was party to the land transaction saying he lives a humble life.
He also challenged those in doubt to review the records, saying Kenyans should investigate the claims and refrain from accepting unsubstantiated claims.
“If I had Sh800 million, everyone would know. Perhaps I would have bought a plane that would make my campaigns easy or maybe I would have bought a building and earn rent so as to stop the hustle of Nairobi. I would be living differently,” he quipped.
The immediate former Foreign Affairs Minister also defended the law firm from public backlash saying they were just doing their job.
He also said that there was no law barring Kenyans from engaging in such transactions.
“Lawyers represent robbers but does that mean that they become accomplices to robbers? I mean, just because lawyers represent murderers does that make them murderers,” he argued.
Wetangula was last year forced to step aside from the Foreign Affairs docket after his ministry was rocked by a scandal involving the sale of embassy property in Tokyo and Nigeria.
He however maintained his innocence saying the issue was politically instigated.
“I’m as white as snow and I have never done anything underhand. I put my case before Parliament and even though there was no connection between me and the scandal when they insisted that I step aside, I did exactly that,” he said.
The president on Monday announced that Kenya had struck oil in Turkana County although he pointed out that it would take time to establish its commercial viability.
The discovery of the light, waxy oil was made in a half-way drilled Ngamia-1 exploration well, by Tullow-Oil, raising expectations that there could be huge reserves once the total depth of 2,700 metres was reached.
If the commercial viability is determined, then it would take up to seven years before commercial production can commence.
In addition, the government now plans to intensify the exploration by giving out more blocs to interested firms.
The government already plans to review the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act in order to promote and accelerate the exploration and development of the potential petroleum resources.
While reinforcing that this was only the first step, Tullow Vice President for Africa Tim O’Hanlon was hopeful that if the prospects are good, they would replicate the success in Uganda where potential is believed to be about one to two billion barrels of oil.
There are already indications of how the new resource will be shared between Kenya and Tullow Oil Plc in the event that its commercial viability is determined.