NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 11 – The National Assembly Committee on Legal Affairs has ordered the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to submit documents which show circumstances under which ownership of Integrity Centre changed hands at a price four times lower its value.
The matter could also raise more questions because the EACC did not establish whether the Deposit Protection Fund took care of the interests of depositors of the collapsed Trade Bank by paying them from the proceeds of rent and eventual lump sum payment.
“We want to know what informed that decision; we want to interrogate whether it was a fair decision or an unfair decision in terms of defrauding members of the public, because there are depositors who have not been paid to date,” committee chairperson Samuel Chepkonga said.
EACC chief executive Halakhe Waqo who was appearing before the MPs said their investigations had disclosed there is no evidence to show that the land on which the anti-graft agency offices stand was ever public property.
He said records from the Deposit Protection Fund, the Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission indicate the land has always been private and owned by institutions.
He revealed that the land, LR No. 209/1069, was registered in 1931 with a grant of leasehold interest for a term of 78 years with effect from November 1, 1931. The lease, he said, was registered to Roy Federickson and Harold James Nories.
In a brief to the committee, Waqo said the property has been subsequently transferred to other entities – Umoja Enterprises Limited with effect from December 30, 1972, Diners Club Africa Limited (1989), Trade Bank Limited (October 31, 1990), Revack Limited (November 10,1994) and Tegus Limited (June 4, 2013 to date).
In its report, the EACC cleared the sale of the building to Tegus Ltd, after another company paid Sh115 million to the Deposit Protection Fund to discharge it.
Waqo also appeared to have glossed over the fact, also mentioned in the report, that as of August 2001, when Trust Bank was placed under liquidation, the charge over the land was Sh614.4 million, which was on account of the accumulated interest.
This means that Revack Limited owed the bank Sh614.4 million, four times more than the Sh152.5 million it had taken as a loan.
“We see the property is being lifted from receivership and is being discharged. We as the public would want to know that, that property at the point of transfer, that it was valued at the value of the public money. That this Sh400 million was not payment for a song, we are interested to find out how that valuation was done,” Tom Kajwang (Ruaraka) stated.
Chepkonga noted: “If at that time Sh813 million was owed by Revack to DPF, how is it that they ended up paying Sh115 million? That is our interest. We want to know if part of the money you are paying as rent later on was used to buy the building, so that people were compromised to reduce the debt.”
“Let us not get confused over whether someone paid the Sh400 million to Revack. That is a private arrangement, we don’t want to get involved in that… we want to know whether public money was used to pay the fund,” Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town) added.
Waqo told the committee that the amount recovered is Sh471 million in collection including the Sh115 million.
The committee had through a resolution of the House adopted a report on the removal of EACC chairman Mumo Matemu and commissioner Irene Keino.
It asked the anti-graft agency to investigate and report within 14 days the circumstances surrounding the current ownership of Integrity Centre.
The mystery over the building’s ownership played out in April when EACC secured an extension of its Sh70 million-a-year lease months after it was involved in a public spat with the owners of the building over the tenancy.
The EACC has been occupying the building since 1997.