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President finally gets Regency report

NAIROBI, November 24 – The report by Commission of Inquiry into the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel has finally been handed over to President Mwai Kibaki.

The President, who received the report on Monday from the chairman Justice (rtd) Majid Cockar at his Harambee House Office and immediately pledged to act on it.

“The Government will study the report and take the necessary action,” a statement from the Presidential Press Service said.

Justice Cockar led fellow commissioners to the brief handover-ceremony but did not speak to reporters who had camped outside the President’s office after getting wind of the meeting.

Other members present were Commissioners Charles Kirui and Kathurima M’Inoti, Secretary Anthony Ombwayo and Commission Counsel Wilfred Mati.

The commission’s mandate expired late last month.

The hotel, which has since been renamed Laico Regency, was allegedly sold secretly for Sh2.9 billion to Libyan investors early this year.

The controversy saw former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya censured by Parliament, compelling him to step aside to allow for investigations. Environment Minister John Michuki has been in charge at the Treasury since Mr Kimunya’s exit.

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The commission was appointed by the Head of State to investigate the role Mr Kimunya, Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u and the bank’s secretary Kennedy Abuga played in the sale of the multi-billion shilling hotel months after businessman Kamlesh Pattni surrendered it to the State.

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 wrong doing.

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

Businessman Kamlesh Pattni transferred the hotel to the CBK in April this year in repayment of 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.

A parallel inquiry by the Parliamentary Committee on Finance implicated Mr Kimunya and recommended that he be barred from holding public office in future.

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