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EACC put to task over acquisition of Integrity Centre




EACC put to task over acquisition of Integrity Centre

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Twalib Mbarak. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A Parliamentary committee has questioned the decision by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to spend Sh1.5 billion for the acquisition of Integrity Centre— where it is currently housed— that was valued at Sh400 million only five years ago.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly Monday, EACC CEO Twalib Mubarak was put to task by MPs even as it emerged that the taxpayers may have not gotten value for money.

This came after the commission admitted that it was charged by the proprietor of Integrity Centre for renovations that were actually done by the commission using public funds.

It also emerged that National Lands Commission (NLC) , valued the property yet it was the acquiring entity which is a potential conflict of interest.

That NLC did the valuation in the absence of its structural and architectural design, key components in the determination of a value of a building and that the ministry of Lands was not involved, MPs heard yesterday.

“I just want to be told why it was not necessary to engage the Ministry of Lands as required by law for the proper value of the building and so that the public does not lose money?” Mr Wandayi posed. The Treasury took ownership on August 29, marking the end of the deal that saw the owners of Tegus Limited pocket more than Sh1.5 billion after the compulsory acquisition of Integrity Centre.

The shareholders of the little-known company made Sh1.1 billion profit off Kenyan taxpayers on the building, which was valued at Sh400 million in late 2013.

The building, whose acquisition has been protracted and controversial, was previously owned by the collapsed Trust Bank.

EACC has been paying an estimated Sh1.5 million as monthly rent for occupancy of the three-storey building that was recently gazetted as a police station. It has housed the anti- corruption watchdog since 1997.

The Integrity Centre, previously held as a public asset by the Deposit Protection Fund (DPF), was claimed publicly by both the Revack Limited, a company associated with former Cabinet minister, late Nicholas Biwott and Tegus Limited.

The building was initially owned by Trade Bank, also associated with Mr Biwott, which collapsed in 1993.

The report of auditor general for the 2017/18 financial year currently before PAC has questioned why the Government valuers were excluded in the deal.

Mr Ouko said it is only the Ministry of Lands that should determine the appropriate market rents and values where all Government agencies need to lease or acquire the property.

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