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MPs read conflict of interest in Integrity Centre purchase

George Kebaso @Morarak

Members of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday left Integrity Centre with eyebrows raised over possible conflict of interest in its acquisition three years ago.

It emerged that the purchase of the facility, hosting Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) headquarters, by-passed the law.

PAC heard that Integrity Centre was not valued as required by the law. The disclosure emerged after Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo asked the anti-graft agency to show if it did a background check to ascertain whether the building was private or public property.

“I want to know whether the building was valued before it was acquired. Who were the valuers?” he asked.

Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu questioned how the property’s value appreciated from Sh400 million in 2013 to Sh1.5 billion in 2018.

Summon officials

PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi said from details of the latest valuation by the National Land Commission, the committee concludes that the sale of the property was not clear and left a lot of loopholes.

Legal property transactions require services of a registered architect, estate agent, lawyer, surveyor and valuer. However, the case of Integrity Centre, members said, leaves a lot to be desired.

“It is important to know who the beneficiaries were,” said  lawmaker Ndindi Nyoro. EACC chief executive  Twalib Mbarak said NLC used the law to make a compulsory acquisition of the property. He said the commission would furnish the lawmakers with all the information it requires regarding the matter.

“As a commission, we remain transparent, accountable and steadfast in supporting all other government arms in discharging their responsibilities under the Law. To this end, we commit to avail all the information required from us to enable conclusion of the matter,” he added.

Last week, while appearing before PAC, Twalib was hard-pressed to explain the acquisition of the property. Yesterday, PAC indicated that it would summon former NLC bosses and former EACC boss Halakhe Waqo, during whose tenure the deal was transacted.

Value property

PAC will also meet Speaker and Clerk of the National Assembly, among others.

Information shared with the committee shows that Tegus Ltd bought Integrity Centre from Revack Ltd for Sh400 million in 2013. Revack had acquired the building from the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation.

It also emerged that the NLC, then headed by Muhammad Swazuri, valued the property, yet it was the acquiring entity, a potential conflict of interest.

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