, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 16 – Members of Parliament probing the Tatu City land scandal clashed during the grilling of one of its directors, Vimal Shah.
The legislators at the Lands Committee exchanged words when Shah was asked to respond to queries on tax evasion claims by Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny.
Attempts by Kutuny to grill Shah who was also answering a petition accusing him of bringing in foreigners as shareholders of Tatu City, were met by heated protests by committee members.
“It is being claimed that the government has lost over Sh6 billion on stamp duty and tax evasion. My issue here is public interest, people evading tax madam chair,” said Kutuny.
Other members however interjected.
“You are out of order. Which tax evasion are you talking about we have been listening to other witnesses, Nahashon Nyaga was here and he said it was not about tax evasion but delay in payment,” Embakasi East MP Babu Owino interjected.
“We cannot start making conclusions that there has been tax evasion when this matter is still under investigation so madam chair let us move on and we will include that in the report if indeed it is true,” Likoni MP Mishi Mboko urged.
The MPs went ahead and accused each other of having vested interest in the matter but the committee chair Rachael Nyamai (MP Kitui South) was quick to stop the heated exchange.
Changamwe legislator Omar Mwinyi who seemed disappointed, described the behaviour of some members as unbecoming adding that they were lowering the decorum of the House.
“Some of us are thinking of resigning from Parliament because of this kind of behaviour. What we are seeing is something that will tarnish our names and taint the House, so I request that whoever comes before us be accorded the time they deserve and members refrain from making unnecessary comments,” Mwinyi outlined.
On his side, Shah emphasised that there was no conflict of interest between Bidco Africa where he serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Tatu City.
In July 25, Tatu City Chairman Nyaga and minority shareholder Stephen Mwagiru appeared before Lands Committee where they sought Parliament’s intervention to protect the interest of Kenyans in the multi-billion shilling real estate where they accused foreign directors of tax evasion.
Mwangiru tabled documents showing differences in the amount of money indicated as having been paid for the transfer of land to some investors and what was stated in the Ministry of Land records.
“We noticed irregularities in entry of titles at the Ministry of Land. I have documents showing that property that has been sold over Sh1 billion is claimed to have been sold at Sh200 million to evade stamp duty and income tax,” Mwagiru said.
The committee is probing a public petition filed by 1,300 Kiambu residents through local MP Jude Njomo where they asked Parliament to intervene and stop foreign shareholders of Tatu City from taking away their land.
Nyaga, Mwagiru and Shah are the three directors/ shareholders in Tatu City and Kofinaf Company Limited, which are related companies owned by the same group of shareholders comprising Kenyans and foreign nationals.