NAIROBI, April 22 – The controversy surrounding the handing over of Grand Regency Hotel took a new twist on Tuesday after the government’s chief legal adviser disowned the deal.
Attorney General (AG) Amos Wako told reporters that he was not consulted in the period leading to the transfer of ownership of the multi-billion shilling hotel from businessman Kamlesh Pattni to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
“The AG has not been involved whatsoever in the handing over of the Grand Regency Hotel or in the alleged or purported sale of the hotel to Libyan buyers. I also watched the hand-over like everybody else on television, so as of now I am a stranger to what has gone on,” said Wako.
Debate over the handover arose after a group of lawyers questioned the grounds on which Pattni had sought a blanket amnesty.
However, Wako said neither the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) nor CBK had approached him on the matter of negotiating a deal with the businessman.
He said: “The Attorney General is the ultimate authority in criminal cases, so I am waiting for the approach that they will make and my response will be in the public domain.”
Wako also said he would assess the nature of all the criminal cases revolving around the businessman before giving his recommendations.
This is after it emerged that the Sh5.8 billion criminal case against Pattni might not be part of the deal.
“I do not know what deal Kamlesh Pattni has with the CBK or with the KACC, if they had intended that the criminal cases be part of the deal then they should have approached me, but as of now I don’t know what has happened. When the request comes I will have to consider it on its own merit,” Wako explained.
He however said that CBK is at liberty to withdraw civil cases it filed against the businessman since the matter is purely under its domain.
Pattni, who surrendered the five-star hotel two weeks ago, has at least three cases pending relating to the multi-billion shilling Goldenberg scandal.
Pattni’s cases include one in which he is accused alongside the former Treasury PS Wilfred Koinange, ex CBK Governor Eric Kotut, one time Kenya Commercial Bank General Manager Elijah arap Bii and his deputy Eliphaz Riungu.
They are charged with conspiring to steal Sh5.8 billion from the Government.
Another pending case is the dispute over the ownership of Grand Regency Hotel. The case is between the Central Bank and the Uhuru Highway Development Company.