Nairobi, Kenya, March 14- Joint-Committee Launches Inquiry into Telkom Kenya’s Buyback and Legal Status Following Government Acquisition Before Elections.
A Joint-Sitting of the Departmental Committee on Finance and National Planning, and Committee on Communication, Information, and Innovation began an inquiry into the Buyback and Legal Status of Telkom Kenya Ltd on Monday.
The inquiry comes after the Government of Kenya acquired the telecommunications company just a few days before the 2022 General Elections.
Speedy Acquisition Raises Questions
The acquisition has raised questions due to the hasty manner in which it was carried out and the timing of it, which coincided with the elections.
The Joint-Committee seeks to unmask the real owners of Jamhuri Holdings Ltd and Helios Investment Partners, the firms involved in the buy-out.
Members of the Committee had invited the Controller of Budget, the Solicitor General, and the CEO of Telkom Kenya to shed light on the transaction, which the Departmental Committee on Finance and National Planning had urged the House not to approve.
The Kshs. 6 billion transaction was undertaken when the House was on recess, leading to a late request for approval in line with article 223 of the Constitution.
Controller of Budget Speaks Up
Appearing before the Joint-Sitting, the Controller of Budget, Dr. Margaret Nyakang’o, told the legislators that despite her approval of the payment of KShs 6.09 Billion to the Company in the buyout, the processes were flawed, and her office had minimal control over the payment, pointing to possible foul-play.
Solicitor-General Reveals Legal Particulars of Telkom acquisition
The outgoing Solicitor-General, Kennedy Ogeto, was invited to apprise the Committee of the legal particulars of Jamhuri Holdings Ltd and Helios Investment Partners.
Ogeto revealed that Jamhuri Holding Ltd is registered in Mauritius despite being a shareholder of Telkom Kenya Ltd.
He also revealed that Helios investment Ltd was registered as a private company in 2011 in Kenya, with 100% of its shareholding companies being registered in Cayman Islands.
CEO of Telkom Kenya Weighs In
The CEO of Telkom Kenya, Mugo Kibati, stated that the company was not privy to the discussions of the shareholders’ discussions leading to the exit of Telkom.
According to Kibati, the Kshs 6.09B was paid to partly settle debts owed by the shareholders, hence Jamhuri/Helios companies remain the major shareholders of Telkom.
Kibati also shared his fears that the government’s decision to buy back Telkom shareholding from external shareholding could lead to the company’s collapse.
He believed that securing new shareholding to buy off Jamhuri shareholding would have been the most strategic decision if they were to save Telkom from dying.
Committee Takes Issue with Payment of Shareholders’ Loans
The Committee took issue with the payment of Shareholders’ loans by government funds, questioning the legitimacy of the whole process.
The inquiry will continue on Thursday when the Chair of Telkom Board is expected to appear before the Committee