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Sh2b dispute over Nairobi’s Ufundi Plaza rages

By Dennis Mbae | July 17th 2015

NAIROBI: A protracted court battle between Ufundi Sacco Limited and its former members over the ownership and management of a building worth Sh2 billion located in Nairobi may be far from over, even after a tribunal ruled the property belongs to the latter.

Already, the sacco has lodged an appeal challenging the Co-operative Tribunal's decision, which among other things issued a permanent injunction restraining the sale of the building.

It directed that the affairs of the sacco be separated from those of the building, a separate investment venture of 15,000 former members. The decision on whether to allow the appeal or not will be made today.

The sacco, in an effort to wriggle itself out of a debt mess, sought to sell the building but the move was opposed by the then members, who claimed the sacco had no right to do so as it was neither the owner nor a shareholder.

The property in dispute, a 13-storey building named Ufundi Co-op Plaza, is a replacement of the original one previously purchased by members in 1986 at a cost of Sh30 million and adjacent to the American Embassy, which collapsed during the bomb blast in August 7, 1998.

A resolution to buy the original building as an investment venture was arrived at on January 16, 1986 by 15,000 members of the sacco. After they contributed Sh12 million, the sacco procured a loan of Sh18 million on their behalf from the Co-operative Bank.

By the end of 1989, the loan had been fully repaid through rental income from the newly-acquired building, then known as Gateway House, where the sacco was a tenant.

But even though the members had bought the building independent of the sacco, they could not register it in their name since they were not yet a separate entity. It was thus allegedly agreed that the building be registered in the name of Ufundi Co-operative Savings and Credit Society Ltd.

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