Tycoon on run caught in Sh200m land battle

Fugitive billionaire Humphrey Kariuki. [Photo, Courtesy]
Fugitive billionaire Humphrey Kariuki has been caught in yet another controversy relating to a disputed Sh210 million property in Kileleshwa occupied by his WOW Beverages.

Africa Spirits Limited, which is embroiled in a Sh41 billion tax evasion claims over which Kariuki is being sought, is part of WOW Beverages since the operations were merged four years ago.

Dalbit Petroleum, which is also owned by Mr Kariuki, started out its operations at the premises before shifting its base to Lavington on James Gichuru Road.

It is unclear whether the companies continue to occupy the property — 209/3335 — as the owners or tenants of different entities including the possibility of the landlord being a related company.

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Teleposta Pension Scheme was awarded the property as part of the assets carved from the former giant Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation.

Current owner

Recent filings put the current owner of the home that has since been converted to a wine shop and offices as Crucial Properties Limited, according to the management of the scheme.

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We had not established who the owners of Crucial Properties were by the time of going to press.

Chris Okemo, the then Finance minister in September 2001, signed the vetting order transferring ownership to the scheme which has, however, been unable to take occupation.

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An investigation surrounding the current state of ownership at City Hall and the Ministry of Lands revealed that the green card – the document holding the original records of all property transactions, went missing.

Without the document, it is technically impossible to claim ownership specifically because like many public properties, no title deeds had been issued until recently.

Posta staff who had been allocated the house were ejected before the ownership changed hands.

Attempts by the scheme to gain repossession of the property, with a monthly market rent tag of over Sh100,000, has been in vain.

“Our valuation agents have been denied access to the property since 2013 in the bi-annual assessment to determine values,” said Peter Rotich, the chief executive of the scheme.

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Valuation firms

Three different valuation firms have attempted to enter the prime property diagonally opposite the road from Kileleshwa Police Station.

Lack of any documentation to prove ownership, except the gazette notice that gave the vetting orders, made the task more complicated.

“They have only managed to take photos from outside the gate where we could tell there have not been much improvements from the original house,” Rotich added.

He has since sought the interventions from various offices through 43 letters to the NLC, Ministry of Lands, the Treasury and the anti-graft agency.

SEE ALSO :Relief for tycoon in tax case

One letter got a response from James Orengo, the then Lands minister. In his brief reply , he promised to “look into the matter”.

"A more substantive response would be provided in due course," Orengo wrote.

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Humphrey KariukiSh210 million propertyKileleshwa