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Punish culprits in Tokyo embassy deal

BUSINESS
By | Sep 7th 2011 | 3 min read
By | September 7th 2011
BUSINESS

By Martin Mutua

The Auditor General has torn into the controversial acquisition of the Sh1.4 billion Kenyan Embassy in Japan by the Government saying proper procedures were ignored.

In a special audit report obtained by The Standard, the Auditor General, Anthony Gatumbu, recommends all those involved in acquiring the property be held accountable for the loss of public funds.

The report comes a day before Prime Minister Raila Odinga is expected to issue a statement in Parliament as to why him and President Kibaki resolved to reappoint to Cabinet Foreign Affairs Minister, Moses Wetang’ula and his Permanent Secretary, Thuita Mwangi.

MPs were up in arms two weeks ago and sought the direction of House Speaker Kenneth Marende on how the two were reinstated yet an investigation by Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission into the scandal was yet to be finalised.

The probe had been as a result of recommendations by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations, chaired by Wajir West legislator, Adan Keynan following investigations by the committee into the scandal.

The report, which was passed by the House also recommended that a criminal investigation against Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Mwangi be carried out over the controversial purchase of the Tokyo property.

It further recommended the sacking of Wetang’ula from Cabinet because his conduct “is not compatible with that of a minister” for giving false evidence, misleading the country and concluded the PS shared equal blame over the alleged loss and gross dereliction of duty.

Disciplinary action

On Tuesday, the Auditor general seemed to concur with the Keynan led-committee by recommending that appropriate disciplinary and/or administrative action be taken against those involved in the transaction.

“All parties and individuals involved in the process of acquisition of the property in Tokyo be held to account for the loss of public funds amounting to Sh185 million,” adds the report.

The auditor further recommends further enquiries be conducted to establish whether or not there are other “encumbrances, liabilities or obligations” in respect of the property which is now owned by the Kenya Government.

The Auditor General also made an observation which was unearthed by the parliamentary committee that the officials at the Foreign Affairs Ministry hired a dubious firm that carried out survey on the property and went on to pay Sh389,000.

Mr Gatumbu further states that contrary to assertion by officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there is no evidence showing formal offer of land by authorities in Japan to the Kenya Government.

Interestingly, the auditor general also observed that whereas the Commissioner of Lands had valued the property at Sh1.2 billion, the ministerial tender committee disregarded the valuation and instead approved a purchase price of Sh1.4 billion.

He further indicts the PS, Foreign Affairs for authorising the mission to hire a court clerk (Shihoushoshi) to provide legal services for the Government on the property.

“Apart from the fact that Mr Ohtake was not a qualified lawyer it has not been explained how he was identified and a fee of Sh404,898 for the services arrived at,” says the auditor general adding that the terms of reference were also not available during the audit.

The auditor general further warns that no search and check were carried out but the records available to them showed there existed a mortgage charge of Sh1.55 billion against the property in favour of a local financial institution.

And the Auditor general says that Mr Mburu, the charge de affairs who signed on behalf of the State, is not duly authorised in writing by the PS who is the accounting officer.

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