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Koimett says directors who bought Telkom unknown

The directors of the Alcazer Capital Limited who were part of a consortium that made a joint bid to buy Telkom Kenya will remain faceless after Investment Secretary Esther Koimett told a parliamentary committee that she did not know them. Koimett told the Parliamentary Investment Committee that despite the fact that she sits in the board of Orange Telecom Kenya, she did not have details as to how Alcazer joined the company and how it exited.

Alcazer left the consortium, in June 2012 and according to the company’s Internal Communications Manager Martin Gitau, Alcazer did not directly own shares in Telkom and was neither a majority shareholder. She said she does not have any details as to who are the directors of the Dubai based company, insisting that its introduction was an internal arrangement with the France Telkom who have majority shares.

Koimett who was accompanied by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, was put to task to explain why she did not seek to know the involvement of Alcazer. Committee members led by chairman Adan Keynan warned that the involvement of the company in a key telecommunication entity could jeopardise the country’s security.

Keynan termed the company as a quasi security agent, wondering how a foreigner could come in, do business and leave without the knowledge of State organs. It also emerged that Orange Telecom breached the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) licencing laws which stipulates that the commission must be notified whenever there is a change in shareholding

. “The company ought to have been closed having breached the licence under which it is operating in,” said Keynan. Members sought to know the involvement of Eddy Njoroge in the board. Gitau said Njoroge is not a shareholder but is a director and chairman.

The committee also wants Treasury to explain the role of Mobicom directors Paul Ndungu and Joel Kibe. Rotich and Koimett should also give details as to why another telecommunication firm, Jamii Telecom was awarded a tender to instal fibre network in the entire Rift valley region.

The committee suspects that well-connected political and Treasury mandarins in the former Government may have conspired to sell Telkom Kenya shares worth Sh64.4 billion to France Telkom, just ahead of the March 4 General Election and shortly after, evading stringent laid down scrutiny for such State transactions.

The National Treasury and Investment Secretary are now on the spot over the deals which involved the amount accrued from the sale of Telkom Kenya shares. The questionable deals were signed on December 31, 2012 and Sunday June 30, this year. Members raised the red flag over why the deals were rushed when government books of accounts were closed.

“This is massive public fraud which should not be let to go and those culpable must be made to explain the deal,” said Keynan. The deals involved the Kenya Government and the France Telecom, that owns Orange Kenya Company. The State was to sell its shares to finance a loan. In particular, the committee questioned why the first transaction of Sh30 billion was done on December 31, when no government business was going on. - By ANTHONY MWANGI

 

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