Finance Minister Amos Kimunya remained defiant last night, rebuffed calls for his resignation and denied acting with impunity over the secret sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.The minister insisted the Sh2.9 billion the Government received from the Libyans was the best value for the national asset and that the deal was clean.Kimunya, who spoke to The Standard on the telephone, said the deal did not involve President Kibaki and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.”It was a clean deal that was directly between the Libyan Embassy in Nairobi and the Central Bank of Kenya,” said the minister as he sought to distance the two presidents from the sale that has sparked controversy and calls for his resignation.Despite the barrage of condemnation and protests by Cabinet ministers, religious leaders, civil society and other Kenyans to resign, Kimunya said the calls were not justified and some of his colleagues were making utterances from a point of ignorance.He threw brickbats at his Cabinet colleague, Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua, accusing her of emotionally whipping propaganda to misinform the public.Kimunya suggested it was Karua and other ministers of her ilk who should be resigning and not himself. He said they were “incompetent to serve as ministers”.”If a minister can accuse me on the sale of Grand Regency without clarifying from me the details of the same, it is really unfortunate, and that is why they should resign first because they are incompetent,” said Kimunya.
Its mere politics
He added: “This deal was so official that I cannot understand why ministers would want to demonise it without even knowing the facts,” said Kimunya.The minister said calls for his sacking and resignation were “pure propaganda” and that his colleagues were a let down to the Government and Kenyans for commenting on issues before verifying facts “which are in the open”.”The highest value for the purchase of Grand Regency was Sh2.1 billion, but it was sold for Sh2.9 billion last week after the sale was finalised and the transfer made,” explained Kimunya.He said claims that the hotel was sold for Sh7 billion were malicious and a plot by some politicians in Government to demonise him.Kimunya also defended claims against single sourcing, saying the Libyans registered their interest for the Grand Regency since April and nobody else came up with any other offer.”The issue of single sourcing does not arise because no other country was interested. Again, there are no complaints from any country that had shown interest in purchasing Grand Regency,” the minister said.He said several brokers and agents had been cut off from the deal and this had not gone down well with many parties, including some politicians now making accusations.
“My colleagues are busy making comments on an issue they seem not to understand. None of them has asked me to explain the details, and again, it’s all in the open. Theirs is political propaganda which does not help anybody,” he said.The minister also denied allegations of corruption and money changing hands between senior officials and the Libyans. He said no government could bribe another in such a deal.”It was the Libyan government that wanted to deal directly with Central Bank. I could not have said anything until the deal had been done. It’s on record and in the open,” said Kimunya.
MPs are malicious
Kimunya introduced another dimension to the saga, claiming that he had suddenly become unpopular among MPs in Parliament after introducing taxes on their allowances.”They think by making malicious statements on serious issues they will cut me down to size. I challenge anybody who has evidence that the hotel was sold at Sh7 billion to produce it,” said Kimunya.And Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, speaking from Egypt where he is attending the African Union summit, said he knew of the deal between the Libyan Embassy and the Central Bank.Wetangula, however, said he had long left Wetangula, Adam Makhokha and Company Advocates, the firm said to have handled the sale transaction.The minister said he retired from the firm in January after he was appointed to the Cabinet. But the law firm retained the name for purposes of business.