NAIROBI, August 13 – The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Wednesday said an agreement it signed with businessman Kamlesh Pattni over the sale of Grand Regency hotel was not a blanket amnesty.
The Commission’s Deputy Director Fatuma Sichale was at pains to explain whether a provision in the settlement it signed with Pattni, absolved him against all claims the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) had advanced in exchange of the hotel.
Sichale insisted that the settlement was in reference to a Sh2.5 billion loan the bank had advanced to Pattni even though a fifth condition in the settlement stated that CBK would abandon all its other claims against the businessman.
"Whereas I do know for a fact that there were other suits that were pending between Central Bank and Pattni. I am not privy to the pleadings therein," she explained.
The businessman surrendered the hotel in April this year after a protracted court battles with CBK in a move, he said, was meant to allow him live at peace.
While Pattni has argued that the transfer exempted him from all cases, KACC on the other hand has insisted that it only covered civil suits and excluded criminal ones.
Sichale told the Justice Majjid Cockar led Commission that the blanket amnesty issue was dropped after she made it clear to lawyers representing Pattni and the CBK Secretary Kennedy Abuga that the commission did not have that prerogative.
"As a commission we investigate criminal cases and forward the files to the Attorney General, we have nothing to do with criminal cases once the files have left our offices," Sichale said.
The Deputy Director informed the commission that she convened a total of six meetings with Abuga and Adan Ahmed advocates representing Pattni starting January this year before the signing of the settlement.
She however said that CBK Governor Njuguna Ndung’u was the one who chaired the first meeting in regard to the transfer but left everything else to Abuga.
Assisting Counsel Wilfred Matu and other Lawyers are expected to cross examine Sichale on Thursday.
Pattni is yet to appear before the Commission.
The hotel and its previous owner have been at the centre of corruption allegations in the country, the latest being its controversial sale to the government of Libya.
Meanwhile the puzzle of the actual value of the hotel continued with valuers appointed by CBK giving a conflicting number of rooms in the hotel.
Value Zone Limited put the number at 196 while Lloyd Masika gave 227 and the CBK’s records indicated 228.
The controversial sale of the hotel saw the exit of former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya from the Treasury after questions were raised on how he had handled the sale.
President Mwai Kibaki appointed the commission in July to investigate the role played by Kimunya, CBK Governor Njuguna Ndung’u and the bank’s secretary Kennedy Abuga.