Kenya: Suspended Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau rejected requests by the Public Investment Committee (PIC) to return to his office and retrieve documents crucial to an ongoing probe against the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).
Mr Kamau, who appeared before the committee yesterday over the long-running tussle between KAA and the Kenya Duty Free shops associated with businessman Kamlesh Pattni, told the watchdog team that he could not return to office due to the ongoing probe against him.
He said he would only go there if the committee gives him a letter, officially written to the ministry and copied to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) directing him to produce the said documents.
“Unless if you give us a letter from this committee and copy the same to EACC and Head of Public Service, I will not go there. The reason we were asked to step aside is so that we are not seen to interfere with any Government operations as we are being investigated,” Kamau told PIC chairman and Eldas MP Adan Keynan.
The committee agreed to give the CS the letter to allow him furnish the committee with specific documents.
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This request for documents came even as Kamau and his Principal Secretary Nduva Muli, who is also suspended, accused the management of KAA of undertaking secret dealings in the awarding of a concessionaire contract to Dufry International.
Kamau said he had raised concerns over how certain clauses, which appeared to give Dufry International exclusivity in running of shops, found their way in the contract.
Dufry International was contracted by KAA after Pattni's Duty Free had been evicted from the airport shops control.
The CS said he was concerned that while KAA was kicking out Pattni over his apparent exclusivity in the shops, it was ironic that the Authority was entering into another contract that gave another company even more exclusivity.
“I brought to the attention of KAA’s managing director clauses in the agreement dated October 14, 2014 between the authority and Dufry that were prejudicial to the interests of the Authority,” said Kamau.
Mr Muli said that while the then MD Lucy Mbugua was directed to ensure that the KAA board was informed of the matter and that KAA and Dufry rectified the bad clauses, she did not take the matter to the board.
After being informed by Mr Keynan that despite the agreement between KAA and Pattni not to sue the authority, Duty Free, which by then had metamorphosed into Suzan Ltd, had early this year moved to court seeking compensation. The PS said the latter felt aggrieved by the new contract.
“Duty Free must have felt that they were duped by KAA after seeing the exclusive nature of the concessionaire contract. It made them see theirs as a Sunday school party,” said Muli.