‘Nakumatt boss faked illness to skip court’

Former Nakumatt Chief Executive Atul Shah (pictured) has been accused of forging a letter from MP Shah Hospital to justify his failure to appear in court over a Sh74.4 million debt case.

Ideal Location Director Ashok Doshi told Deputy Registrar Christine Ogweno on Wednesday that Mr Shah used a fake letter from a Dr Mohen Gaballa indicating that he was unwell.

The ex-Nakumatt boss is facing contempt of court charges in a case where he has been sued over Sh74.4 million rental arrears owed to Ideal Location, the proprietors of Nyali City Mall, where the struggling retailer was a tenant.

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In March 2018, Justice Charles Yano issued a decree that allowed Ideal Location to evict Nakumatt from the mall over Sh27 million rent arrears.

Justice Yano found Nakumatt in breach of the sub-lease agreement dated June 14, 2009.

Ideal Location lawyer Willis Oluga told the court on Wednesday that Shah had not paid the said arrears and skipped court under the pretence that he was unwell.

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Oluga sought a warrant of arrest against Shah for failing to honour the court’s summonses.

The lawyer further told the court that MP Shah Hospital had denied writing any letter dated February 4, 2020 showing that Shah had been treated at the facility and that the letterhead used was not the one currently being used by the hospital.

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Oluga said the hospital also denied the authenticity of the reference number used in the letter, pointing out that it did not exist in the hospital records.

“Dr Mohsen Gaballa did not author the letter dated February 4, 2020 tendered in court by Shah,” he said.

“In light of the foregoing, it is clear that Shah used and tendered a forged letter in court so as to justify his failure to attend court and is deliberately evading the court process and has now gone to the extent of faking a letter,” said Oluga.

The court had found Shah guilty of contempt of court. He was expected to appear in court to mitigate before being committed to six months in jail for failure to pay his former landlord Sh74,438,765.

In the suit, Ideal Location wants Shah jailed for failing to pay Sh74.4 million as ordered by the High Court in Mombasa.

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On February 6 this year, Deputy Registrar Ogweno gave Shah 10 days to appear in court and explain why he should not be committed to civil jail over contempt of court.

On Wednesday, Ogweno ordered that Shah appear in person to explain why he failed to show up in court and had not paid the outstanding debt to Ideal Location.

“The respondent (Shah) should appear in court in person to explain why he failed to come to court even after being given 10 days, failure to which a warrant of arrest will be issued against him,” said Ogweno.

Nakumatt’s lawyer D Ngonze said Shah was on bed rest for 10 days and that he was suffering from severe hypertension.

Ngonze pointed out that the judge failed to take note of the fact that Nakumatt was put under an administrator and there was an insolvency case ongoing in Nairobi High Court.

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Shah maintains that they were illegally evicted from the premises in which they were anchor tenants.

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NakumattAtul ShahMP Shah Hospital