Four Asian businessmen are staring at losses amounting to millions of shillings after the courts cancelled the irregular sale of five acres of land belonging to the iconic Kericho Tea Hotel.
The men allegedly bought the land in a public auction but High Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa – in a 63-page ruling – issued an injunction compelling the Kericho chief land registrar to cancel the sale.
“The honourable court issues orders setting aside the purported sale and eventual transfer of LR No. Kericho Municipality Block 4/295 to the purchasers/respondents,” Justice Wasilwa ruled on the land measuring 5.831 acres and valued at Sh423.5 million.
The four businessmen are Ravji Devji Chhabhadia, Kanji Devji Chhabdhabia, Chandarakanji Devji Chhabhadia and Shashikant Kanjibhai Pindoriya.
Justice Wasilwa also issued an injunction compelling Hezron Getuma Osongo T/A Hegeon Auctioneers to file before the court the details pertaining to the public auction, including but not limited to the date, time and place of the alleged auction.
“The court also requires the records of the auction, bidders and the respective bids pertaining to the alleged sale,” the judge ruled.
The case was filed in the Employment and Labour Relations Court by the management of Tea Hotel against Kenya Union of Domestic Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha), who are listed as the claimants/respondents.
Yas Angwan Holding and Tea Hotel Limited are listed as proposed interested parties.
The application was based on the following grounds; that Tea Hotel sits on two plots; LR No. Kericho Municipality Block 4/295 (originally LR 631/22/R/1 and LR 631/9/1/A) measuring 5.831 acres, and LR Kericho Municipality 4/313 (originally 631/175) measuring 20.449 acres.
The court heard that the two parcels of land are distinct with separate title documents.
The court also heard that the claimants/respondent’s counsel allegedly in collusion with Hezron Getuma Osongo T/A Hegeon Auctioneers conducted a fraudulent auction with the intention of divesting Tea Hotel of its hard-earned land.
“Upon conducting the auction, the advocate together with the auctioneer allegedly obtained a forged and incomplete title deed to block 4/295,” the petition in court reads in part. Justice Wasilwa also heard that the persons declared to be the purchasers did not pay 25 per cent of the purchase price at the fall of the hammer, or completed payment as mandated by law.
The property is also valued at Sh423.5 million and not Sh33.1 million, the court was told.
“The claimant is free to institute proper execution proceedings devoid of fraud after the accounts are rendered by the auctioneer,” said Justice Wasilwa.
According to Kudheiha, the process that led to sale of the land was triggered by a court order dated March 31, 2018, after the management of Tea Hotel failed to pay Sh5 million to settle salary arrears for its employees, and terminal dues for retirees.