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Tycoon Jimmy Wanjigi and Nairobi shop in court over alleged Sh1.3m clothes debt

By Kamau Muthoni | July 14th 2021

Jimmy Wanjigi denies receiving clothes worth Sh1.37 million from Fazal – The Luxury Boutique. [File, Standard]

Billionaire businessman Jimmy Wanjigi has filed an appeal at the High Court contesting a lower court’s verdict that ordered him to pay Sh1.37 million to a clothing company over debt dispute.

Fazal – The Luxury Boutique, a high-end clothing retail company in Nairobi, had sued Wanjigi for allegedly failing to pay Sh1.37 million for clothes sold to him in 2019.

The tycoon allegedly acquired five pairs of designer trousers and two jackets from Fazal, whose parent company is Ravello Limited.

He, however, allegedly failed to pay for the Ermenegildo Zegna trousers and two Brioni jackets.

Milimani Principal Magistrate D.M. Kivuti on January 22, 2021, ruled that Wanjigi should settle the debt.

The businessman, however, allegedly failed to honour the magistrate court’s decision, prompting Ravello to file an application to auction Wanjigi’s items over the debt.

Ravello averred that it had, on multiple occasions, reached out to Wanjigi on instant messaging service WhatsApp, but he failed to heed their plea.

In their court papers, Ravello said Wanjigi owed the clothing company Sh1.3 million for the five pairs of trousers and two jackets, and Sh67,500 for another Zegna pair of trousers that he had allegedly previously obtained, but failed to pay for.

Ravello said Wanjigi had acquired the pair of trousers at Sh67,500, but he claimed it couldn’t fit him and was to return it to the company. The firm said that Wanjigi, however, failed to return the trousers, or pay for it.

As a result, Ravello said the businessman owed the company a total of Sh1.367 million.

Wanjigi, however, denies the allegations. He, consequently, filed an appeal at the civil division of the High Court, stating Ravello never sold the clothes to him.

The businessman stated the lower court anchored its ruling on “hearsay”.

“The honourable trial magistrate erred in law by basing his order, judgement, decision, decree, on hearsay and, or inadmissible evidence and, or unauthorised and unauthenticated WhatApp messages,” he said in his countersuit filed before Justice Joseph Sergon.

The appellant further accused the magistrate’s court of “twisting facts” in favour of Ravello.

“I aver that the contradictions, white lies, and inconsistencies in the statements of the plaintiff’s (Ravello) witnesses namely Peter Macithi and Aziz Fazal could only be dealt with through cross-examination during a full trial of the said suit, and not through an interlocutory application,” said Wanjigi.

Ravello had told the magistrate’s court that it sold the clothes to Wanjigi on credit because of the good seller-customer relationship they’d built over the years.

Wanjigi, according to Ravello, began playing cat and mouse with the company after receiving the clothes.

Court papers filed by the luxury boutique said Wanjigi had, on different occasions, told Ravello that he was out of the country, away from his office or would constantly make payment pledges, which he’d fail to honour.

Later, Wanjigi allegedly refused to receive phone calls from Ravello representatives.

“Hi Jimmi, can I come to collect $9,675 (Sh1.05 million) and one pair of trousers that you said you’ll return?” read one of the alleged WhatsApp messages from Ravello to the businessman.

In yet another message, Ravello allegedly said: “Good morning Jimmi. Kindy send me the grey pair of trousers and cheque, please. Regards, Aziz.”

In a response that Ravello attributes to Wanjigi, the tycoon said: “[I] will send someone to you tomorrow morning. In which name do you want the cheque drawn?”

The company said Wanjigi had pledged to make the payments on February 26, 2020, but failed to fulfil the promise.

Wanjigi, in his counter-application, claims the boutique’s allegations are baseless and are meant to harass and taint his “good image”.

“He (Wanjigi) does not owe the plaintiff the alleged $10,350 (Sh1.1 million) or any money at all,” the businessman’s lawyer had, previously, told the magistrate’s court.

Wanjigi alleged the WhatsApp messages produced in court had been sent by a lawyer, identified as Martin Maina.

The tycoon said Maina was not called to testify in court and was not listed as a defendant in the suit.

“The defendant herein (Wanjigi) has averred in his defence that he is a total stranger to the plaintiff and that no goods or services were rendered to him. The defendant is a total stranger to the documents such as the WhatsApp messages the plaintiff is relying on in support of its claim,” the billionaire’s lawyer said.

Milimani Principal Magistrate D.M. Kivuti on January 22, 2021, ruled that the court had established Wanjigi owed Ravello the said monies, and should therefore settle the debt.

An aggrieved Wanjigi filed a subsequent appeal, asking the High Court to suspend orders by the lower court.

The billionaire’s wardrobe

Fazal – The Luxury Boutique, where Wanjigi allegedly bought his clothes, has three stores in Nairobi; Sarit, Yaya and Westgate Mall.

Brioni, one of the designer brands that the tycoon allegedly acquired, is an Italian menswear luxury line based in Rome and specialises in sartorial ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, eyewear and fragrance. It also provides a tailor-made service.

Brioni was founded in Rome in 1945. In 1952, the brand organised the first menswear runway show in the modern history of fashion.

The brand is known for dressing, among others, former United States of America President Donald Trump and multi-award-winning actor James Bond.

In fact, Brioni jackets are labelled “tailored for loyalty and Presidents of the World.” A single Brioni jacket could set you back between Sh44,000 and Sh1.2 million.

The other high-end fashion brand, Zegna, is also headquartered in Milan, Italy. It was founded in 1910 by Ermenegildo Zegna in Trivero, Biella Province of the Piedmont region of Northern Italy.

Zegna has evolved from luxury textile production to ready-to-wear and expanded across the world as a luxury lifestyle group. Privately owned, it is now led by the third generation of the family with Gildo as CEO and Paolo as Chairman.

The company tailors luxury men’s wear, including suits, with a pair of trousers costing between Sh30,000 and Sh400,000.

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