Auditor raises new queries on Integrity Centre’s status
Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has raised concerns over the compulsory acquisition of the Sh1.5 billion Integrity Centre that houses the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) headquarters in Nairobi, saying her office was unable to confirm whether the purchase of the building was completed.
In a report tabled in the National Assembly, Gathungu regretted that she could not verify whether ownership documents of the building were actually remitted to the National Treasury as a copy of the title deed was not made available to her office for audit review to signify completion of the acquisition process.
The process that could have culminated in EACC acquiring Integrity Centre permanently was started in 1999 by the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).
“In absence of the title deed, it has not been possible to ascertain the ownership of the EACC land or whether the documents were transferred to the National Treasury,” reads the report in pat.
In her latest report, Gathungu also raised concerns over the failure by the National Lands commission (NLC) to avail copies of the development plans including architectural, structural, electrical, mechanical and civil works drawing to EACC in respect of the property.
The Auditor General says the move has hampered the effective planning for the maintenance of essential electro-mechanical services and possible refurbishment and redevelopment of the building.
Gathungu in the report also raises concerns over NLC’s failure to do valuation before the acquisition of the building.
NLC she said, failed to provide evidence as to whether the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning played any role in the valuation of the property despite the fact that the department of Land valuation in the ministry is supposed to provide valuation services which forms the basis for revenue collection.
According to her the fact that the NLC was the acquiring entity, its decision to carry out valuation of the property and not the Lands ministry, is a conflict of interest as it goes against the principle of protecting the monetary interest of the government in such transactions.
“Due to the failure to involve the mandated Government valuer, Ministry of lands and Physical Planning, it has not been possible to ascertain whether the commission obtained value for money in the acquisition process of its headquarters , the Integrity Centre building,” read the report in part.
Building and improvement
The NLC report shows that the 1.2-acre piece of land was valued at Sh691.7 million while the building and improvements were valued at Sh650 million, bringing the cost to Sh1.3 billion, plus Sh201 million (15 per cent) as statutory allowance, bringing the total cost to Sh1.5 billion.
The move by Gathungu comes after EACC boss Twalib Mbarak told the National Assembly last year while appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was taken to task to explain the decision, after it emerged that taxpayers did not get have not got value for their money.
According to information shared before the committee last year the owner of the building Tegus Ltd, bought Integrity Centre from Revack Ltd for Sh400 million in 2013.
Revack had acquired the building from the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC), which manages collapsed banks’ assets.
The building was taken over by KDIC from the collapsed Trust Bank after it failed to repay a bank loan for which the building had been charged.