Telkom probe: MPs displeased with Jamhuri Holdings’ director’s absence

The directors of Jamhuri Holdings Ltd, a company that sold Telkom Kenya back to the Kenyan government for KES 6.09 billion, failed to appear before a joint parliamentary committee investigating the controversial deal.

The joint committee of the Departmental Committee on Finance and National Planning, and the Committee on Communication, Information & Innovation had invited the directors of Jamhuri Holdings Ltd, a Mauritius-based subsidiary of Helios Investment Partners, to shed light on their role in the transaction.

However, the committee only received a letter from Paul Cunningham, a partner and chief financial officer of Helios, giving answers to some of the queries raised by the legislators.

The letter did not satisfy the committee members, who expressed grave concerns over the legitimacy of Jamhuri Holdings Ltd and its involvement in the deal.

The committee co-chairs Kuria Kimani and John Kiarie said they were keen to put faces to the names of the directors and to understand their motivation for selling their 60 percent stake in Telkom Kenya to the government.

“We are in receipt of what is purported to be responses to the questions that we asked in our letter, but in terms of appearing before this committee and noting the powers and responsibilities bestowed upon us, it was important for the witness to appear in person. As it is, we are unable to establish the authenticity of this letter, purported to be from the company,” said Kuria Kimani.

“We need to establish, as a committee, if we are dealing with actual or imaginary people involved in this payment by public money. It is a matter of grave concern to us if at all these people actually exist or money was paid to imaginary individuals,” Kiarie added.

According to the Co-chairs, the flow of communication from Jamhuri Holdings is suspicious, as there are letters purporting to be replying to letters that were never sent to them by the National Assembly.

Close scrutiny points to possible illegitimacy of the letters from the Company, hence the Committee has agreed that the documents sent to them is inadmissible until the Directors appear before the MPs in person.

Among the answers the joint committee sought from the directors was if the planned exit of Jamhuri/Helios from the ownership of Telkom was approved by the Cabinet, and what was the role of the regulator (CAK) in this process.

As the joint committee continues with its inquiry, it has emerged that the money paid to Jamhuri holdings was meant to settle a debt and that Jamhuri Holdings still holds majority shares of Telkom, hence no sale was done to the Kenyan Government.

The Joint-Sitting of the Committees continues this afternoon with the former Cabinet Secretary for Finance and National Planning Ukur Yatanni set to appear before the legislators.

The committee said it would pursue other legal avenues to compel Jamhuri Holdings Ltd directors to appear before it and answer for their actions.

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