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Goldenberg architect wears different hats

Monday November 26 2012

Mr Kamlesh Pattni  (right) and other elders at the installation of Prince Peter Mumia II as Wanga King in Matungu District. Photo/FILE

Mr Kamlesh Pattni (right) and other elders at the installation of Prince Peter Mumia II as Wanga King in Matungu District. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By OLIVER MATHENGE [email protected]

He has had run-ins with authorities and has even been detained at Kamiti Maximum prison.

The multi-billion Goldenberg scandal introduced controversial businessman Kamlesh Mansukhal Damji Pattni to Kenyans more than 20 years ago. All indicators were that he was the architect of the saga. (READ: Pattni used links to State House)

For years, Mr Pattni has been in and out of court on fraud, theft and forgery claims that is said to have cost the government Sh68 billion.

His offices have been raided, and his personal existence turned into a living hell, somewhat. The tax authorities say he owes more than half a billion shillings in back taxes.

But it is his conversion to Christianity and even adopted the name Paul that seems to be his most brilliant stroke to date.

He has tried his hand at a charitable trust, but no one took notice. He has tried revealing how somebody “obtained by extortion, Sh20 million only” and got sued for it.

Mr Pattni is now a pastor and televangelist at Hope International Ministry which he founded after he converted from Hindu to Christianity. Not only did Mr Pattni become a Christian but also a philanthropist using his foundation Hand of Hope.

When he was called in to testify at the Goldenberg hearing, in his opening remarks, Mr Pattni said his evidence would be guided by John Chapter 8 verse 32 and 36.”

Truth shall set you free

Mr Pattni told the Commission of Inquiry: “My lords, I will proceed to read the background, and I would also like, as a Christian in my new faith, to say that I’m guided by John 8 verse 32, which says that ‘and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ And John 8 verse 36 which says: ‘If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free’, my lords.”

When he controversially surrendered the Grand Regency Hotel (Now Laico Regency), Mr Pattni said that it was the Bible that had told him to do it. (READ: I was misled on hotel deal, says Pattni)

Born in 1962 in Mombasa, Mr Pattni did not stop at just being a Christian. The witty businessman turned into politics and even became the chairman of Kenda which fielded 170 candidates in 2007.

But it is his actions in the last three years that have given every indication that he was on a mission to re-invent himself. Mr Pattni chairs the House of Traditional Elders whose membership is drawn from various communities in the country.

As recently as March this year, the group was in Zimbabwe where Mr Pattni presented Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with a black and gold gown once donned by disposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Mr Pattni said that the veteran ruler was the “natural successor” to Col Gaddafi.

The eccentric Libyan dictator often styled himself as Africa’s king of kings and regularly summoned the continent’s traditional leaders to Tripoli for meetings as he sought their support to become the leader of a United States of Africa.

“I got the gown from Gaddafi before he died and after his death Mugabe is the only African leader who deserves to have it. Mugabe is the next African chief… so am handing this gown to Mugabe,” Mr Pattni said then.

Col Gaddafi, who was killed in October, was crowned “king of kings” in 2008 by African chiefs and traditional leaders who he met in the city of Benghazi and lavished with gifts.

In 2011, Mr Pattni, or brother Paul as he now commonly refers to himself, led the Kenya elders to Tripoli twice where they have held talks with the late Gaddafi.

The so-called House of Traditional Elders of Kenya, was registered on December 22, 2009, with Mr Pattni as chairman and elders claiming to represent major Kenyan communities holding the other offices.

Other officials in the Registrar of Societies list are Riaga Ogallo (vice-chairman), Phares Ruteere (secretary-general), and Vincent Mwachiro (treasurer).

Former Ol Kejuado County Council chairman Daniel ole Muyaa is the organising secretary, Haji Ahmed is the deputy secretary and Peter Mumia is the national coordinator.