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Covid-19 excuse flops as Court okays auctioning of Sh100m property for a UN employee

By Dominic Omondi | August 20th 2020
By Dominic Omondi | August 20th 2020

Attempts by a United Nations employee to save her Sh100 million properties from being auctioned citing the challenges of Covid-19 has flopped.

This is after the court found that she had already been in default prior to the pandemic.

Margaret Oduk now stands to lose two of her prime properties in the suburbs of Runda and Kileleshwa in Nairobi, after the High Court refused to stop Standard Chartered Bank from proceeding with the auction. The Runda property is at Runda Mae Estate and is valued at Sh80 million while the Kileleshwa property’s value is Sh20 million.

On April 21, a month after Kenya registered its first Covid-19 case, and passenger flights were prohibited, Oduk filed a case at the High Court in Nairobi seeking to stop Standard Chartered Bank and Leakey’s auctioneers from selling the Sh100 million properties.

She cited, among other reasons, the fact that she could not travel to the country to pay for the properties due to the restriction in flights.

However, High Court Judge David Majanja was not convinced and dismissed her notice of motion with costs.

“The plaintiff did not contest the fact that she was indebted to the bank. She admitted that she has been struggling to pay the loan. The bank provided evidence of her default, including email correspondence where she promised to regularise loan repayments,” said Justice Majanja.

Among her other prayers and grievances were that the lender had mismanaged her loan, charging “exorbitant, colossal and excessive interest arrears”, a situation that saw it balloon from the initial Sh80 million to Sh93.4 million.

She thus wanted to be issued with “correct and accurate loan account statements reflecting the true and correct position of loan status”.

She also claimed that the valuation of the two properties at Sh80 million understated their true values, and asked the court to compel the bank to undertake fresh valuation.

The prayers were dismissed on account of being vague and the plaintiff not giving any evidence to back up her claims.

StanChart Collection and Recoveries Manager Boniface Machuki told the court in an affidavit that Oduk admitted being in default and had refused to service the loan despite being employed by the UN.

“He (Machuki) states that the plaintiff’s default predated the Covid-19 pandemic and that any default could not be attributed to the bank,” said Justice Majanja.

Oduk is said to have applied for a remortgage loan facility of Sh80 million in US Dollars in November 2015.

There was also an equity release of Sh14 million. Two years later, the bank and Oduk agreed to restructure and change the terms of the original loan. In March, the lender through Leakey’s gave her 45 days to pay the loan.  

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