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EACC to blame for Mall’s woes, officials tell Parliament

COUNTIES
By Moses Nyamori and Roselyn Obala | August 22nd 2019

Officials of Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) Mall have accused the anti-graft agency of scaring away investors through unending graft investigations.

The officials say the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is now engaging in economic sabotage.

The commission has been probing LBDA which it accuses of misusing taxpayers funds in the construction of the mall. EACC has been probing the matter for the last five years.

LBDA Chairman Cavince Owidi yesterday told the Senate Devolution Committee that EACC was acting maliciously; using threats of arrests to intimidate the officials.

Mr Owidi challenged EACC to go ahead and arrest former or present LBDA officials if it has amassed any evidence against them, instead of making claims that result to bad publicity for the agency.

He disclosed that EACC has been raiding their offices for documents, and is yet to charge anyone.

He averred that EACC has succeeded in creating fear among the authority’s staff to the extent that none of them wants to sit in the tender or evaluation committees.

Owidi further said that officials fear making key decisions on settlement of pending bills and loan repayments even as interest on loans soar, due to EACC's threat.

LBDA took a loan of Sh2.5 billion from Co-Operative Bank to put up the mall. A title deed to the authority’s land is being held as collateral, as the interest continues to accrue.

The Standard has learnt that the loan accrues Sh30 million in monthly interests.

“We can't pay suppliers or make major financial decisions. The mall is expected to raise 230 million annually, which would be enough to cover our recurrent expenditure,” Owidi said.

EACC has rubbished claims that its investigations have kept away tenants from the mall.

Twalib Mbarak, EACC Chief Executive Officer, told the same committee that LBDA is to blame for the mall's lack of tenants.

“The commission’s investigations have absolutely nothing to do with the delay in the operationalisation of the LBDA mall,” Mr Mbarak said.

The controversial Mall has not been operational since its completion in 2016.  

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