Njuguna Ndung'u fights off accusations over hotel sale

Treasury CS nominee Prof Njuguna Ndungu during the vetting session by the Committee on Appointments on October 18, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Treasury CS nominee Njuguna Ndung'u was the first to be vetted by MPs yesterday.

With graft claims during his tenure as Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Prof Ndung'u had an arduous task of absolving himself from blame over the irregular sale of the Grand Regency Hotel and his alleged involvement in a Sh1.2 billion security tender.

He served as CBK Governor between March 2007 and March 2015. Ndung'u and former Finance minister Amos Kimunya had been accused of irregularly selling the hotel below market price and flouting procurement rules.

The government sold the five-star property in Nairobi to a group of Libyan investors for USD45 million. Analysts at the time, however, said the hotel was worth USD115 million, suggesting the property was undervalued.

The vetting committee sought to establish why a CS nominee whose past professional practice was riddled with graft claims should be cleared to hold the sensitive Treasury docket.

"We have two sworn affidavits in our files alleging that at the time you were CBK governor, you were adversely mentioned in the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel and you also face abuse of office charges involving the irregular award of an Sh1.2 billion security tender in 2014,” said Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa.

"Do you think with such allegations you are the right man for the job? Are you the man who will inspire confidence in the economy considering that our economy is not doing well at all?” he posed.

Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi poked holes into the integrity of the nominee claiming every project he was involved in during his tenure was dogged by graft allegations.

“There is the issue of the irregular sale of the Grand Regency Hotel in 2008 while you were at the helm of the Central Bank of Kenya. A report of the commission of inquiry into the sale of the hotel found you guilty of flouting procurement rules. It went ahead to accuse you of lacking transparency, honesty, and good faith and of other unprofessional actions…,” said Wandayi. Ndungu, who is worth Sh950 million, was put to task to explain his involvement in the collapsed Imperial Bank. 

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