Anti-graft unit probes deal by two telco firms

National Assembly Implementation Committee Chairman Moitalel ole Kenta (right) and Member Paul Abuor during the committee’s past meeting. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has opened investigations into planned controversial merger of Telkom Kenya and Airtel Networks Kenya Limited.

EACC declared that all Government officers involved in the questionable transactions will be treated as either witnesses or suspects in the probe set to take one month.

Yesterday, the commission’s Director of Investigations Abdi Mohamud told National Assembly’s Committee on Implementation that they have put up a legal team to give advice on whether to stop the transactions, pending findings of the investigations.

The officer made the assurance after MPs protested delay by the commission to probe the matter, claiming the agency was out to protect some powerful individuals at the National Treasury who sanctioned the deal.

The committee chaired by Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok North) allowed the commission to carry the investigations and submit its preliminary report in 30 days.

Mid last month, the Communication Authority Director General Francis Wangusi, in a Gazette notice, announced the Government’s plan to have the two firms merged.

Appearing before the committee, Abdi assured the MPs that the commission will unravel claims of corruption around the process.

The restructuring of the company with 40 per cent Government stake started in December 2007 when France Telecom (now Orange S.A.) bought 51 per cent stake in Telkom Kenya at a Sh26 billion.

But National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) in a 2014 dismissed the deal as fraudulent after it emerged that the Government only got Sh2.5 billion instead of Sh4.9 billion.

The special audit by PIC on the privatisation, recapitalisation and restructuring Telkom Kenya’s balance sheet, which was adopted by Parliament in 2015, warned that the Government was not getting value for money.

The report had accused Treasury for not carrying out due diligence in identifying a French multinational. [Moses Nyamori]