Pattni lets go of Grand Regency
Published on April 10, 2008, 12:00 am
By James Anyanzwa and John Oyuke
The Government has officially taken ownership of the controversial Grand Regency Hotel after more than a decade of legal battle with businessman tycoon Mr Kamlesh Pattni.
The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Director, Justice Aaron Ringera, said the latest action was in line with the commission’s new mandate of returning public properties acquired through dubious deals.
“To-date we have recovered lots of public properties but what we have achieved today, is bring back home the greatest asset that had been improperly obtained,” Ringera told a news conference during a hand over ceremony at the hotel’s premises in Nairobi’s Central Business District.
Embattled businessman — Mr Kamlesh Pattni, previously owned the hotel, whose value stood at Sh2.1 billion in 2003.
The five-star modern facility has, however, been in the hands of receiver managers appointed by Central Bank of Kenya until on Wednesday when it was returned to the Government.
Ringera also warned suspects in 120 cases pending before the courts to follow suit and return all public assets acquired irregularly.
“CBK will take possession of this property and ensure the Government recovers such assets,” Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, the CBK governor said.
Pattni who was present during the handing over said his action to surrender the assets was meant to end growing accusations levelled against him.
“I’m losing Grand Regency but gaining peace, integrity and a chance to develop the nation,” said Pattni who is now a Christian. He has since been re-named Paul.
He said although he was still young enough to cling to the hotel, the lives of 600 families that depend on the hotel would be jeopardised.
He said the revenues the Government would generate from the hotel should be channelled towards resettling the IDPs.
The takeover of the posh Grand Regency ends the long unresolved dispute between Pattni and CBK over ownership of the multi-billion shilling edifice.
Grand Regency, which is Nairobi’s top end hotel, was built in the early 1990s and has been the subject of lengthy legal spat between the businessman and the Government . Its construction has been linked to the country’s mega financial scam— Goldenberg.
The 220 bed hotel was until Wednesday under CBK appointed receiver-managers, whose brief was to recover public money lent to Uhuru Highway Development Limited – the developers of the facility, formerly owned by collapsed Pan African Bank.