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70-year-old widow battles for her Sh150 million property

NAIROBI
By Paul Ogemba | October 30th 2019
Apartment in Huruma that Alice Wanjiru Wamwea owns. She claims auctioneers have threatened to auction her property over her alleged failure to repay a bank loan she took to construct the apartment, a claim she disproves. [David Njaaga/Standard]

A 70-year-old widow is battling to save her Sh150 million property after it was auctioned by a bank to recover a Sh65 million loan.

Alice Wanjiru, through a suit filed in court, claims the past seven years have been a nightmare to her as she battled to keep her property, which she alleges has been illegally sold to an investment company based on a false claim that she defaulted on repaying the loan.

“It was a well-calculated scheme by Faulu Microfinance Bank Ltd to defraud me of my hard-earned property. They failed to disclose my monthly financial statements, refused to account for the money they collected from my premise and ended up selling it a throwaway price,” she stated.

Wanjiru stated in her affidavit that she bought the property situated in Jonsaga, Huruma Estate in Nairobi County, in 1991 from Jason Mwangi at Sh16 million. At the time, the property was a three-storey building.

Since she wanted to develop the property, she opened an account with Faulu Microfinance Bank Limited for the purposes of acquiring loans to finance her construction projects.

“Between March 2013 and May 2015, I applied for various loans amounting to Sh65 million to finance working capital and construction of a seven-storey building,” she said.

Loan terms

Under the terms for agreement for the loan, the bank was to collect all monthly rent from tenants as part of repayment and she would top up the remaining balance from her other businesses.

According to Wanjiru, problems started when a manager handling her account was transferred to another branch and her efforts to have her account transferred to the manager’s new station was turned down.

“I continued to repay the loan until January 2017 when Antique Auctioneers served me with a default notice and gave me 45 days redemption period. I asked the bank to give me statements to show how it was collecting the rental income and loan repayment but they declined,” she said.

She claimed that in March 2017, an auction advert was circulated by Antique Auctions under instructions from the bank to allegedly recover Sh73 million when the statements indicated she only had an outstanding loan of Sh7 million.

Antique Auctions went ahead to sell the property to Oksama Investment Supplies Limited, which is now laying claim to the property.

Alarmed by the turn of events, Wanjiru stated that she reported to Banking Fraud Investigation Department who, after investigations, arrested Amos Mwugweru, Peter Onsongo, Robert Waweru, Paul Mwangi, Esther Muthoni, Tom Jaseme, Oksama Investment Supplies Ltd and the auctioneers.

Criminal case

They faced charged of conspiracy to defraud Wanjiru her property valued at Sh150 million, stealing and forging her signature in the loan application forms. The case is pending determination at the chief magistrate’s court.

In its defence, the bank denied defrauding the woman, saying that all her monthly statements are available and can be verified on her loan balance.

“The bank performed its duty as a financier to her investment plans. She never made any attempts to settle her dues and being a microfinance institution, we are not governed by provisions of the Banking Act on capping interests,” said the bank in its response.

The bank maintained that it was within its right to auction the property to recover the loan, and that it gave her enough time but she refused to comply.

Oksana Investment Supplies Ltd also filed a counter-suit to evict Wanjiru from the premises, claiming it legally acquired it through sale by public auction.

The case is scheduled for hearing tomorrow.

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