House wants EACC to probe Lake Basin assets deal


PIC chairman Adan Keynan. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Parliament wants the anti-graft watchdog to investigate the purported takeover of assets worth over Sh1 billion belonging to the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) by a foreign company.

The Public Investments Committee (PIC) says Dominion Farms Ltd took over assets belonging to the Yala Swamp Irrigation Project in 2003 without adequate consultations and authorisation by the line Ministries.

“The committee recommends that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigates the circumstances under which LBDA assets were purportedly taken over by Dominion Farms Ltd without adequate consultations and authorization by the line Ministries and recommend individuals found culpable for prosecution,” PIC chair Adan Keynan said Wednesday in Parliament.

The House team also wants EACC to look into the culpability of Mr George Ochieng, the former LBDA managing director, Mr Eliakim Owalla (former senior legal officer) and other staff in the then Office of the Vice President and Ministry of National Reconstruction, on suspicion of alteration of the MOU signed by the Attorney General.

The committee said the Yala Swamp Project was started in 2003 as a partnership between LBDA and Dominion Farms, through a limited liability company that was to be registered under the Companies Act.

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'No assets deal'

“A draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between LBDA and Dominion Group of Companies (DGC) for development of Yala Swamp envisioned a partnership between LBDA and DGC and not transfer of assets.

“The draft prepared by LBDA was sent to the parent Ministry…and it is not clear whether the National Treasury gave an approval on the project,” the committee said in its findings.

PIC said the Attorney General’s office redrafted the MOU and submitted it to the parent Ministry and advised parties to proceed and execute.

“LBDA and DGC signed the MOU on May 19, 2003 on development of the Yala Swamp. The Attorney General, however, noted that the MOU signed reduced LBDA’s role to a mere squatter in the project and was different from the one redrafted by his office,” Mr Keynan said.

The MPs said Dominion Group failed to adhere to the terms of the MOU during implementation of the project.

“The committee recommends that an Inter-Ministerial Committee be formed to resolve the current impasse between the LBDA and DGC on the Yala Swamp Irrigation Project,” said the PIC chair.

Debt owed

PIC wants the management to follow up the full settlement of debt owed by Dominion, in regard to technical expertise provided by the authority to the company.

LBDA managing director, Dr Evans Atera, told the House committee that Lake Basin wrote to the then permanent secretary, Ministry of Regional Development Authorities in May 2004, enumerating the value of assets and development activities amounting to Sh1 million that had been undertaken in Yala Swamp and Kadenge Plot 899 so that government could initiate compensation from Dominion.

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