A team of legislators yesterday noisily waded into the controversial Tatu City hearing, causing a raucous as Bidco owner Vimal Shah was giving evidence.
The MPs, Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Owen Baya (Kilifi), Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West), David Sankok(Nominated), Silvanus Osoro(South Mugirango) and Gideon Kosgey(Chepalungu), had been ousted out of the committee by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi’s recent ruling to rid the House of “friends of the committee”.
The team of “friends (of Stephen Jennings)” was led by Luanda MP Chris Omulele, who did not want to hear any word from witnesses castigating Jennings. Jennings has been adversely implicated in the Tatu City saga where Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been swindled billions, while Kenyans have been deceived.
— Babu Owino (@Babu_Owino) August 17, 2018
Trouble started when Shah, who had been invited as a witness by the House Lands committee accused majority shareholder Stephen Jennings of being “a ruthless liar.”
“How can you prove that your partner is ruthless? You must withdraw the remark as it is both unparliamentary and unbecoming,” said Owino, seemingly defending Jennings.
Despite the shouting and the interjections that threatened to drawn Shah’s evidence, he went on to spoil the party by revealing murkier deals of the Tatu city dealings. Shah reiterated the evidence presented earlier by his Kenyan shareholders, accusing Jennings of siphoning money out with fresh revelations that the majority shareholder (Jennings) was stashing money in offshore accounts in Cyprus.
To make it worse, Shah said that the company had paid Ksh618 million to law firms despite its turnover being Ksh2 billion.
“One fails to understand how the company can spend a huge amount of its income to pay lawyers,” he said adding that the Committee the company under Stephen Jennings was disposing of land without involving other colleagues.
Shah further revealed that the majority directors had repatriated more than $140 million (Ksh14 billion) from the sale of land.
Unable to withstand the revealations that were being made by Shah, the rowdy mps tried their best to discredit and silence Shah. At one time, Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny urged the chairperson Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South) to declare the members out of order, demanding they state their stand on the matter and whose interests they were representing.
“From the actions and words being thrown by some of us, it is clear that they are representing the interests of one side in this petition,” said Kuttuny.
Shah, who together with the company chairman Nahashon Nyaga and a Stephen Mwagiru are the minority shareholders, told members that Jennings had refused to honour a court order directing that a forensic audit on the company accounts be carried out.
“The audit if carried out will help unearth the woes facing Tatu City, the majority shareholders have failed to convince both us and the courts as to why they are opposed to this audit,” said Shah.
The raucous interjections by the MPs irritated Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi who declared that he was contemplating resigning from his position owing to the appalling and vested interest driven situations members were subjecting themselves to.
“The conduct of some of us is quite unbecoming. The gentleman before us is a witness; invited by this committee to hear his side of the story but members cannot give him time to say it. I feel disappointed,” said Mwinyi as he pleaded with the chairperson to reign in the “misbehaving MPs for the sake of the integrity of those willing to maintain dignity”.
Shah and other shareholders, Steve Mwagiru and Nahashon Nyaga say that the companies involved in Tatu City land dealings, Kofinaf Company Limited and Tatu City Limited, could have swindled the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) of more than Ksh6.5 billion in tax dues, as well as unsuspecting land buyers.
Nyaga had told the committee the foreign investors have defrauded the taxman over Ksh6.5 billion and wants the Director of Criminal Investigations to probe majority shareholder Stephen Jennings and his other directors of Kofinaf Company Limited, over unaccounted sum of $13, 540,003 (Ksh1.3 billion ) in respect of excess amount paid for acquisition of the loan.
Nyaga also wants Tatu City Ltd to be investigated on the whereabouts of $51,522,175,05 (Ksh5.1 billion) while another minority shareholder, Stephen Mwagiru, indicated that the majority shareholders were involved in tax evasion amounting to Ksh1.5 billion.
Nyaga thus wants the foreign directors stopped from selling off company land until after a thorough probe on tax evasion is heard and determined.
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