How cartels scheme to dispossess foreigners of their vast property

From Kenya’s capital to highest mountains, to the bottom of valleys and the sun-kissed beaches, foreign millionaires are being cleaned off their assets in elaborate but suspect schemes.

An alliance of crooked lawyers, police officers and immigration officers are reportedly reigning terror on lonely foreigners and Kenyans of foreign descent in their sunset years.

Saturday Standard has established that security agents are pursing a cartel comprising Nairobi County Government and Ministry of Lands officials who have fraudulently dispossessed five foreigners off their property in separate incidences.

Claims of an elaborate scheme involving fictitious wills, forged signatures and recruitment of false witnesses who are then used to extract court orders for taking over the property have also emerged.

In some instances, international networks are activated to manufacture fake court orders which are then presented in Kenyan courts. Lengthy court processes choke the breath of the weary litigants.

On August 24, Appellate Court Judges Alnashir Visram, Martha Koome and A K Murgor slammed the breaks on the takeover of Salama Beach Hotel in Watamu, formerly known as Temple Point Beach Hotel by an Italian couple Hans Jurgen Langer and his wife Zahra Langer from Isaac Rudrot.

The judges threw out the appeal by the Italians who wanted to evict Rudrot from the resort, estimated to be worth Sh1 billion concluding that they had used fake court orders allegedly issued by a court in Milan Italy.

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Forging

The court learnt that the Milan case number on the purported judgment was for another case not yet concluded.

In another case, a Nairobi lawyer, Guy Elms, says he has been living on the edge since his client, Roger Bryan Robson died on August 8, 2012, aged 71. At the time of his death, Robson, who was originally from Britain, owned prime pieces of land in Karen and Upper Hill estimated to be worth Sh600 million today.

Robson, who was a landscaper, driving instructor and entrepreneur, had appointed Elms as his lawyer and given him the power of attorney to execute his will.

One property had six apartments rented out at Sh25,000 each at the time of Robson’s death. He had no wife or children and his only relation was a brother, Michael Fairfax who resides in the United Kingdom.

However, his death opened a flurry of claimants out to take possession of the property and the matter is before courts. One of the claimants said they had purchased the property from Robson for Sh100 million in cash.

In total, there have been six attempts by different people to take over the property.

The defunct Nairobi City Council also wanted to take over some of the property over unpaid land rates arrears amounting to Sh3.6 million.

At one point, Elms was arrested and charged by Directorate of Criminal Investigations for allegedly forging Robson’s will and power of attorney but he was later released after the criminal charges were withdrawn by the state.

“I sometimes fear for my life. If I had known that I would be subjected to this when I agreed to be the executor of my client’s will, I would not have agreed. Now I have to to make sure that his Will is followed. If I wanted the property for myself I would have sold it long time ago,” Elms told Saturday Standard.

There is a similar case in Nakuru, where Sarah Joselyn, a 76-year-old British citizen says she was named as the sole beneficiary of the estate of the late Richard Ingram Crawford.

Although Crawford died in 2014, he had written his Will in 2009. However, about three years after his demise in 2017, a claimant purporting to have bought the land from Mr Crawford emerged. In February last year, Joselyn’s British Passport was taken by the police and has not been returned to date.

Joselyn, who had previously suffered a stroke was arrested in January and charged with forging Crawford’s Will and was incarcerated in cells for a week. 

In Nanyuki, former Laikipia East MP Anthony Mutahi is locked in a legal tussle over the 20-acre Thornlea Farm with a rancher and Kenyan by birth, Stuart Cunningham. 

In the suit, the rancher wants the politician out of the land he claims to have bought in 1994.

“We are waiting for court dates. The hearing had started but the judge was replaced. One side is yet to present its case,” a lawyer involved in the matter told the Saturday Standard.

On February 2018, when conservationists, Esmond Bradley Martin, 76, was killed in his home in Nairobi’s Lang’ata area his closest friends feared that he could have been a victim of a possible land grab.

Mr Martin owned a 20-acre parcel of land and there are reports of attempts by some crooked land officials to dispossess him of this property.

There have been cases of foreigners who have lost their fortunes after trusting their girlfriends or local brokers who pretended to purchase property on their behalf but later betrayed their trust.

A British pilot, Captain Christopher Michael Lockley was locked in a legal battle after his property was registered in the name of a company he jointly owns with the local, instead of his name.

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ForeignersLocal cartelsTob Cohen