President Uhuru’s government is embroiled in a business tussle with businessman Kamlesh Pattni which may lead to the government paying the Goldenberg architect over sh 11 billion.
People Daily reports:
A negotiation blunder by the government could see controversial businessman Kamlesh Pattni paid a compensation award in excess of Sh11 billion for the loss of his Duty Free airport shops.
A parliamentary committee yesterday heard that an out-of-court settlement between Pattni and the government seeking to have the businessman drop a hefty compensation he had won in court may have had no legal basis, leaving him free to collect his claim.
Pattni, the Public Investments Committee (PIC) heard, had won an arbitrary award of Sh4.2 billion for illegal eviction from the Kenya Duty Free shops, awarded to him by retired judge Justice Edward Torgbor in 2012, in an arbitration settlement.
However, Pattni waived his right to claim the award and agreed to drop all cases he had filed related to the matter, on the understanding with Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) that a company associated with him would resume business at both Terminal One and Two at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as well as at the under-construction Greenfield project.
However, PIC heard yesterday, the deal has since gone sour and Pattniâ€™s company, Suzan Limited has filed another compensation suit for a further Sh7.2 billion for losses incurred, which totals to over Sh11 billion if added to the earlier award of Sh4.2 billion.
MPs sitting in the PIC heard that on September 17, 2013, Pattni, together with suspended Transport Cabinet secretary Michael Kamau and Attorney General Githu Muigai appeared at a press conference where Pattni announced he had waived claim to the Sh4.2 billion award and dropped all cases related to Duty Free.
However, no signed statement was issued nor did the government representatives question the role of Pattniâ€™s other company, Suzan Limited which was mentioned in the negotiations.
It now emerges that, even after Pattni dropped his claims, Suzan Limited would emerge later to lay fresh compensation claim when the businessman sensed KAA was to award the Duty Free Shops to a rival Swiss company, Dufry.
PIC chairman Adan Keynan asked suspended CS Kamau when he appeared before the committee yesterday why neither him nor any other government official had questioned the entry of Suzan Limited into the Duty Free deal even though it had not featured all along during the compensation court case.
Kamau and Transport Principal secretary Nduva Muliâ€”who has stepped aside over graft claimsâ€”told PIC the businessman had willingly agreed to withdraw all suits against the government he had filed for compensation.
â€œThis was done in broad daylight during a press conference where Pattni, in the presence of the world, announced that he had withdrawn the cases and the awards.
We were shocked to hear that he went back to court to make fresh demands,â€ Kamau told MPs. â€œIf Pattni went behind our back to return to court, it is either he is insane or he was playing games,â€ a seemingly irritated Kamau said.
But, it emerged, the government negotiators,by failing to question the role of Suzan General may have been duped into entering a void deal. Pattni did not append his signature to his withdrawal statement, meaning his compensation stands, MPs heard.
Attorney General Githu Muigai was present during the much hyped press briefing where Pattni posed as saving the country the burden of paying huge amounts of money, but the AG has since denied ever being party to any negotiations or agreement with companies associated with Pattni.
â€œWe are confused that the CS is telling us that the AG was part of the negotiations with Duty Free, while in our possession is a letter from the AGâ€™s office denying having played any part in the deal,â€ noted Keynan.
Kamau, however, wondered why he was being vilified even after he had summoned KAA to explain why they had awarded Pattniâ€™s company the contract to run Duty Free shops in all the airports, including a yet-to-be-built terminal.
â€œI personally summoned the KAA board, management and the procurement committee to question why they had sanctioned the bold and unprocedural move to give such an award, considering the events that had led to the cancellation of the earlier process,â€ said Kamau.