Open letter to former Judge Bhushan Domah

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Dear Mr. Domah,

I am addressing this letter to you as head of the Commission of Inquiry on Britam, and not to the commission. I believe, with all due respect, that there may be a strong perception of conflict of interest regarding your assessor, Sattar Hajee Abdoula. Having been appointed as an administrator in matters intimately connected with BAI and its related companies, he was privy to information that may put him in a situation of conflict. After bagging a colossal fee of Rs26 million, he is now sitting and judging what he was, until very recently, an integral part of! 

Talking about conflict of interest, and since you are dealing with the sale of Britam, I also meant to mention that Yacoob Ramtoolah of BDO, had no business being the administrator in the first place. My lawyer friends tell me that his appointment might even be illegal according to Section 215(2), section 109(1) and (3) of the Insolvency Act. Since you know that far better than I do, I will not expound it. Allow me to rather concentrate on the business of the day: the hearing of Dawood Rawat’s testimony by your esteemed commission, which raised and immediately dashed the nation’s hopes for transparency. 

You gave two reasons why you cancelled Rawat’s deposition: 
First: “It has occurred to us that there are procedural issues going to the very root of the course of action we are about to undertake”. I’d rather not get into the kind of procedural issues that occur to the commission on the very day of the hearing and which an experienced and respected retired judge heading it did not think about. I prefer to concentrate on the second reason: The failure of Rawat’s lawyer to present by 11 a.m. on Wednesday “a bullet point document to show the strict materiality and relevance of his intended deposition”.

I would like to ask for your indulgence for the delay and translate some of the arguments raised in Dawood Rawat's deposition (See our cover story in Weekly) into bullet points. These might shed light on the whole sale of Britam. I understand that taxpayers lost billions in the hasty, uninformed and allegedly shady sale of Britam. So, here are some of the bullet points Dawood Rawat would have offered:  

  • The figures made public are highly inaccurate. The loss incurred in the Britam transaction is not Rs2 billion but over Rs10 billion. 
  • The price in the public market perception, not in the real value, was intentionally driven down by representatives of Government going into the Kenyan market and making false claims of a Ponzi scheme.
  • The BAI had two critical vetoes enshrined in the articles. BAI was the only final decision authority for the appointment of the CEO and CFO – the two most important positions in any business.  In other words, BAI had the right to control the company through the election of its two most senior executive positions, which greatly enhanced the value of the shares.
  • The records exist, and should have been studied, as to the real value of Britam. At the end 2014, BAI’s shares had a market value of almost Rs5 billion. The projected market value by 2016 for the shares would have been Rs10 billion and, by 2018, between Rs15 and Rs20 billion.
  • The numbers on the table which could have been used and are still accessible prove these values hovered aroud Rs22 and Rs30 billion
  • The claim of no foreign sales – repeated by ministers in Parliament – is a complete and utterly false excuse. Peter Munga and Benson Wairegi had 10 years ago sold shares of Equity Bank to foreigners.

I hope the above bullet points will help you get to the bottom of this real tragedy, not only for the Rawat family and those who invested in their conglomerate but for all of us taxpayers. Had he been allowed to testify, Dawood Rawat would have made a powerful statement you don’t want to miss: “The Kenyans either duped the Mauritians or made a covert deal which is rather intriguing.” We trust you will look deep enough to tell us which one it is. Those are the expectations of the whole country.

Wishing you all the luck you need.

Respectfully yours

Touria Prayag


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