MOMBASA, April 24 – The Government has clarified controversy surrounding the status of the Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi.
Finance Minister Amos Kimunya on Thursday revealed that the government would dispose of the five-star hotel within 30 days.
Kimunya said the government had set the one month period framework for the sale of the hotel and clarified that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) had not bought or disposed of the hotel.
He said the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission simply handed the hotel over to CBK until a new buyer is found.
"It is wrong to misinterpret the handing over ceremony to say that the CBK took over the running of the hotel," said the Finance Minister, after he opened the 10th International Momentary Fund East Africa Steering Committee workshop at the Sarova Whitesands hotel.
He said that CBK was not in the business of running the hotel and was also not interested in a protracted court battle.
He expressed dismay in the way some leaders had politicised the issue.
"I promise to issue a comprehensive statement in Parliament next week to clear the matter in the House," Kimunya said.
The Minister added that CBK was only interested in recovering the Sh2.5 billion loan owed to them by Kamlesh Pattni and company.
"The money that Pattni borrowed was public money and the government has a duty to recover the amount back," he said, adding that he was happy the matter will come to a conclusion after 16 years of a court tussle.
Kimunya said a team is working on the modalities of the sale since the government’s intention is not to run it.
The Minister maintained that the reserved sale intention for the hotel is Sh2.5 billion, and anything above that the government would surrender back to Pattni.
On Tuesday, the Attorney General (AG) Amos Wako told reporters that he was not consulted in the period leading to the transfer of ownership of the hotel.
"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.
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.
Pattni, who surrendered the five-star hotel two weeks ago, has at least three cases pending relating to the multi-billion shilling Goldenberg scandal.