Grand Regency scandal haunts Treasury nominee Njuguna Ndungu
The sale of the Grand Regency Hotel, now known as Laico Regency Hotel, dominated the vetting of the National Treasury nominee Professor Njuguna Ndungu on Tuesday.
The nominee was tasked to explain his stand and the role he played during the sale of the hotel, which was taken to court.
During the sale of the hotel, the nominee was the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor.
While distancing himself from any wrongdoing during the sale of the hotel, the nominee stated that he had been the victim of the abuse of the criminal justice system in the country.
“I’ve been a victim of the abuse of the Criminal Justice System. For example, the procurement that has been mentioned (Grand Regency Hotel). The all idea was to get Njuguna Ndungu out of the Central Bank, how do you do it? That’s why if you go to the records, you will just be embarrassed by the kind of facts,” Prof Ndungu said.
He stated that he fought the courts to clear his name from the scandal.
However, the report on the Commission of Inquiry into The Sale of the Grand Regency Hotel that was handed over to former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2020 found out that Prof Ndungu vigorously maintained that the sale of the hotel was in consequence of an agreement arrived at between the governments of Kenya and Libya.
“However, what appeared to have enhanced the importance of this MOU, according to the Governor, was the fact that subsequently he was contacted by a Protocol Officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who sent him a press release on the same visit of the President to Libya,” part of the report says.
The report stated that the former CBK boss reiterated CBK’s position that the sale was a government-to-Government transaction because of the MOU and the fact that the Libyan Ambassador had escorted the Laico representatives.
It added that no representative of the Government of Kenya was present at any of these meetings, and only CBK officials were present.
However, while appearing for the vetting, the nominee said that the National Commission of Human Rights should come to his rescue as a victim.
“The Kenya National Human Rights Commission and the Transparency International should be coming to our aid as victims of abuse of the Criminal Justice System, but they are coming here to make us the victims. It is quite a paradox.”
He added that his role as a government agent had nothing to do with the hotel’s procurement.
The nominee said that he had not seen the report up to this point, a declaration that appeared to infuriate a section of committee members.
“I have never seen the report. I only remember that the government said that those proceeds, that the Central Bank had done well raising such kind of money, which was invested in Lamu Port and you are aware of that.”
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