NAIROBI, September 8 – The Commission of Inquiry investigating the controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel is seeking alternative means to serve Lands Minister James Orengo with summons after failing in three past attempts.
The chairman Justice Majid Cockar said Monday that they may be compelled to issue the summons through the media or post the necessary papers on the door leading to the minister’s office.
“If our process server fails to serve him again, then the commission will make a formal order to serve him by affixing the notice on the door of his office. In our view it is crucial for him to be served,” he said.
Counsel Stephen Mwenesi appearing for lawyer Adan Mohammed – who acted for businessman Kamlesh Pattni in the transfer of the hotel – made the application after it became apparent that Orengo was not going to appear after all.
The Lands Minister was expected to testify last Thursday according to a witness list released by the commission’s secretary Anthony Ombwayo.
Mwenesi at one point suggested that Orengo be served through the Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura.
The Lands Minister made headlines when he disclosed details of the hotel sale and accused the then Finance Minister Amos Kimunya of failing to proper procedure in the sale.
Although the commission has called 19 witnesses so far, none has mentioned Kimunya’s involvement in the transactions involving of the transfer and sale of the hotel’s assets. His lawyer Githu Muigai has in the meantime indicated that the Kipipiri legislator may not appear before the commission.
“The choice of whether he will come will depend on the evidence adduced this week. I have looked at Abuga’s testimony and he says absolutely nothing about him, if that is followed by the governor then it may not be necessary for him to come,” Muigai said.
As a person adversely mentioned in the saga, Kimunya has the option of failing to appear if he thinks he does not need to defend himself.
The former minister was forced to resign at the height of the controversy in June this year.
The commission was subsequently appointed by President Mwai Kibaki and given the mandate to investigate the roles Kimunya, Central Bank of Kenya Governor Njuguna Ndung’u and the bank’s Secretary Kennedy Abuga played in the sale.
Abuga who was the 19th witness failed to clearly state whether there were any negotiations with the Libyan government at the time the hotel was transferred from businessman Kamlesh Pattni.
Correspondence available at the commission indicates that the transfer of the hotel from Pattni ran concurrently with negotiations for the sale.
Abuga however said that though it was in the public domain that the Libyan government had expressed interest in the asset it had not been formally communicated to the bank.
“The CBK was aware of the interest in the hotel from newspaper reports but it had not become formal,” he said.
Abuga also denied that the bank gave Pattni blanket amnesty in exchange of the hotel.
He said that they had made it clear to Pattni that this was beyond their mandate.
“We informed him that the criminal cases needed to be discussed with the Attorney General (AG) and the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC),” Abuga insisted.
Already the KACC has disowned the purported amnesty saying Pattni’s lawyer Adan Mohammed had been notified that it was only the AG who could grant such reprieve.
The businessman on the other hand has insisted that he only relinquished the asset after the CBK promised him amnesty.
The AG on the other hand has insisted that he was never consulted during the transfer of the hotel although Pattni said that his lawyers were in constant correspondence with Sheria House.