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Kimunya ready to serve

NAIROBI, November 25 – Amos Kimunya has said he’s ready to serve in any capacity in government after being ‘cleared’ of wrongdoing in the sale of the Grand Regency hotel.

The former Finance Minister told Capital News in an exclusive interview that he was confident the Cockar Commission had absolved him of any misconduct in the disposal of the multi-billion shilling hotel, to a Libyan company.

“I’m very happy that the Cockar team finished their work and that Kenyans can now see that I was right all along,” he said on Tuesday.

The Cockar report, which was handed over to President Mwai Kibaki on Monday, is yet to be made public but the Head of State has promised to study it and take any ‘necessary action’.

Mr Kimunya also said that he was ready to return to the Cabinet in any capacity should the President consider him for re-appointment.

“You know that is not my decision but I’m prepared to serve in any capacity when asked to do so.”

The former minister stepped aside on July 8 to pave way for a probe into the sale of Grand Regency, now named Laico Regency. He said he bore no grudge against those who implicated him negatively in the saga.

“Let me just hope that it has served as a good lesson to Kenyans not to crucify people without finding out the truth,” he told Capital News on telephone.

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“I just hope that those who talked a lot on this matter; did analysis and went to the streets will find it appropriate now to apologise to Kenyans for the inconvenience they caused and the extra costs that have been incurred in finding the truth that was always there.”

The sale of the public asset to the African Arab Investment Co. of Libya for Sh2.9 billion triggered a political storm that forced Mr Kimunya to step down, after parliament passed a vote of no-confidence in him. Environment Minister John Michuki has been in charge at the Treasury since Mr Kimunya’s exit.

A commission was appointed by the Head of State to investigate the roles Mr Kimunya, Central Bank (CBK) Governor Njuguna Ndung’u and the bank’s secretary Kennedy Abuga played in the sale of the hotel, months after it was surrendered to the state by businessman Kamlesh Pattni.

The Cockar team called 22 witnesses including Lands Minister James Orengo, who blew the whistle on the sale. Mr Kimunya did not however testify at the proceedings on the basis that none of the witnesses said anything implicating him in any transgression.

Prof Ndung’u and Mr Abuga told the commission that the deal was sealed between Nairobi and Tripoli as a government-to-government sale.

Mr Pattni transferred the hotel to the CBK in April this year to repay a Sh2.5 billion debt owed to the bank. The CBK then sold it through a private treaty to avoid legal tussles with creditors and receiver managers.

The commission, which was initially given one month to finalise its work, has had its mandate extended three times.

In October however, a parallel inquiry by a Parliamentary watchdog implicated Mr Kimunya and recommended severe punishment for him for breaching the National Powers and Privileges Act.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance Planning and Trade that investigated the sale, Chris Okemo, laid out the report in parliament as the Cockar team retreated to write its report.

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The document concluded: "…the appointing authority be advised that the conduct of Mr Kimunya is not compatible with that of a Cabinet Minister."

The Okemo Committee recommended that the Attorney General’s office review and conclude all Goldenberg-related cases.

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