Businessman claims Sh5.6m from embattled car wash owner

Pimp My Ride at the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Mundi Mbingu Street in Nairobi before it was demolished. [File, Standard]

There seems to be no letting up in the troubles surrounding embattled owner of a car wash demolished by Nairobi City County officials a fortnight ago.

The owner of Pimp My Ride East Africa Patrick Nderitu now stands accused of fraud involving the disputed plot at the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Mundi Mbingu Street in Nairobi’s Central Business District, where Simmers Bar and Restaurant was located.

Harun Muiruri Ndung’u, who runs businesses in Nairobi has written to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Complaints Office claiming Mr Nderitu obtained Sh5.6million from him at the pretext that he would lease to him space to set up a chemist shop.

Mr Ndung'u wants Mr Nderitu arrested for the crime and is claiming to have hit a dead end with the police at Central Police who he accuses of not helping him recover the lost sum.

In a letter addressed to DCI George Kinoti, Muiruri claims Nderitu approached him with an offer to lease out the premise to him so he could set up a branch of his business.

Muiruri claims in the letter that he paid Nderitu Sh5.6 million, out of which Sh5 million was to cover the cost of goodwill and the rest would cover the deposit and three months’ rent at Sh100, 000 per month.

He goes further to state that Nderitu claimed he had been appointed by the Magugu family to act as the agent to lease out the space for the shops which were under construction.

“He (Nderitu) told me that he was acting as an agent to the property where the former Simmers Restaurant which had been demolished a few months ago was,” Muiruri says in the letter.

Under the agreement, Pimp My Ride would lease to Muiruri's business a shop measuring Sh350sq feet for a period of five years and two months.

Muiruri says he wrote cheques amounting to Sh5.6 Million to Pimp my ride East Africa Limited account.

The money was paid to Pimp My Ride East Africa in six tranches of Sh750, 000 and another three cheques for Sh500, 000 and two Sh300, 000 cheques between late May and June 27, 2018.

But Muiruri says that business took a suspicious turn after he made the payment since Mr Nderitu would not issue receipts for the transactions nor a lease agreement. Other allegations include issuing bouncing cheques.

"I requested to be issued with the receipt documents acknowledging the transactions but his (Nderitu) response was that they were not ready but he would follow up with the land lady to have them released to me," he said.

"I notified him (Mr. Nderitu) that I could not take up the space without the necessary documents as a company policy. ... if he is not in a position to have the documents ready and availed to me, it would be advisable that he returns the monies," he further states in the letter.

After he demanded for a refund of his money, the aggrieved businessman claims that Muiruri wrote bouncing cheques.

Some days after depositing the cheques, he said, "I was notified that all the cheques had bounced with a reason of insufficient funds.

"I called Mr Nderitu no notify him on that. His phone went off and when I tried later severally he never received my calls," he said.

Muiruri's biggest complaint despite Nderitu not honoring a request to pay back the funds is the police's reluctance to act on the reports he has made.

He claims in the letter that he has been stonewalled by senior police officers who he is accusing of colluding with Nderitu. Efforts to get comments from Central Police in light of Muiruri's belief that they are hellbent on botching the case were fruitless.

The allegations unmask the traps that ensnare entrepreneurs with the allure of prime business locations that mask bitter ownership rows.

The ownership of the prime plot has been the subject of a court case for the past five years.

Former Kimilili MP Suleiman Murunga, the proprietor of Simmers, is battling the family of the former Finance minister Arthur Magugu and Nilestar Holdings Limited for exclusive right to the property.

In the suit which is currently alive at the Environment and Land Court in Nairobi, and in which Nderitu's Company Pimp My Ride East Africa is listed as an interested party, Nderitu says he had leased the plot from Magugu's family and Nilestar Holdings Limited.

Pimp My Ride East Africa filed an application on April 9 last year to be included as an interested party in the dispute. The company told the court that Murunga had started interfering with its occupation of the disputed property, despite the Business Premises Rent Tribunal (BPRT) ordering against any interference.

A demolition squad from the Nairobi City County was at the premise last month to pull down the structures which the county said were built with approvals.

Yet the troubles at Pimp My Ride East African could be as a result of a sour relationship between its owner and Governor Mike Sonko over another disputed property in BuruBuru.

Nderitu, through his company Landmark International Properties Limited attempt to cease possession of the parcel of land it procured from Glad Tidings Crusade Ministry.

There was drama in May when Mr Nderitu showed up to evict the church and a school on the land. The eviction was stopped by Sonko who a day later sent his own demolition squad to the plot along Kenyatta Avenue.

The land, whose value could run to the hundreds of millions, is just one of a number of properties scattered across Nairobi which are the subjects of dispute.

The most prominent ones include an undeveloped plot next to the Reinsurance Plaza which is owned by the late Mbiyu Koinange's family and has been at the centre of family's succession dispute.