Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) has defended the title deed for Weston Hotel – a controversial property associated with Deputy President William Ruto.
The bank says it loaned the hotel more than Sh1 billion because the land document was deemed genuine.
According to KCB, it conducted a search at the Lands ministry and the Lands Registrar gave an assurance that the title deed which had been submitted was authentic.
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The bank is locked in a legal battle with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), which claims to own the land and wants the hotel demolished.
It wants KCAA’s case dismissed and the State agency to be compelled to pay costs of the case.
Court papers filed on behalf of KCB by lawyer Emmanuel Wetangula show that Weston borrowed money from the bank in 2014 and 2015.
The first time, KCB lent Weston Sh350 million and $1.5 million (Sh150 million). A year later, the hotel got another Sh700 million.
Court papers show that a search at the Lands Registry revealed that Weston owned the land. “It is on this assurance that the interested party agreed to advance the loan facilities to the second respondent (Weston) on the firm understanding, belief and expectation that in case of default, it would be entitled to exercise its statutory power of sale over the suit property," says KCB.
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But the National Lands Commission (NLC) later ruled that the hotel was built on land grabbed from the KCAA.
The commission ordered Weston to pay KCAA for the 0.773-hectare parcel, which is opposite Wilson Airport, in a bid to regularise the title.
However, the air transport regulator moved to the Environment and Land Court seeking to recover the contested land. According to its lawyers, the NLC lacked powers to order it to negotiate with Weston for compensation.
KCB Legal Services Director Bonnie Okumu told the court that the bank stands to lose if the land is alienated in KCAA’s favour. Mr Okumu further noted that Weston has not finished repaying the loan. He did not disclose how much the firm owes the lender.
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“The second respondent (Weston) is still in the process of making repayments towards the loan facilities and there are still outstanding amounts owed to the interested party,” said Okumu.
He continued: "This honourable court, in determining the issues raised in the instant application and petition, to consider the equitable interest held by the interested party; the fact that the interested party exercised due diligence and in reliance of the assurance given by the registrar of titles that the title to the suit property was genuine and authentic."