Gun drama as family fight over of a Sh700 million Nairobi Hotel

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Fig Tree Hotel shareholders Patrick Githinji, left, and his two brothers confront their cousins and hotel manager Lucy Waithera at the Fig Tree Hotel where they had gone to take over the management of the business. Denish Ochieng, NairobiNews

A pistol was drawn in a new battle for control of a Sh700 million city hotel.

The fight for the 37-year-old Fig Tree Hotel at Ngara is pitting children of the original hotel owners against each other.

Mr Patrick Githinji, a businessman who operates from the World Business Centre on Tom Mboya Street allegedly drew his gun against his cousins Mr Mwangi Gachau and Mr George Kariuki.

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The drama was seen by a local chief, a Mr Wanjau, and several police officers.

Mr Wanjau later said he was shocked at the action. “I can be a witness. The threats are very serious,” he said.

Battle for ownership The battle for ownership erupted on Friday when Mr Githinji’s supporters raided the hotel accompanied by more than 10 police officers and evicted everybody in sight, including customers who had lodged there.

The hotel is on an acre on Murang’a Road and has 35 well furnished rooms, a bar, a restaurant and several conference rooms.

Investigations revealed the hotel, acquired in 1977, had 21 shareholders with only three of them being from outside the family.

Records at the Attorney General’s office show the original owners of the hotel as Patrick Mwangi, Frederick Njora, Nelson Gachau, Mwangi Kariuki and Mwangi Kimang’a.

The current fight has ensued among their children who are split into two camps.

One is led by Ms Lucy Waithera, a daughter of Patrick Mwangi, while the other revolves around Mr Stephen Maina Kimang’a, a son of Mr Benson Kimang’a.

Ms Waithera’s camp comprises 13 of the 21 shareholders while Mr Kimang’a’s camp, which has been managing the hotel on a day-to-day basis comprises his brothers Fred John Njora, Moses Irungu, their mother Prisca Wanjiku, plus Mr Githinji, Mr Mwangi Gachau and two others.

The current flare-up which brought business to a standstill arises from the creation of an extra 2,175 shares last year by the Kimang’a group, a move that the Waithera axis opposed.

Originally, the hotel had 2,000 shares valued at Sh2 million.

Before the creation of the new shares, the Kimang’a group had 625 shares. The new move raises their ownership to 2,800 shares which gives them 67 per cent ownership against the rest’s 33 per cent.

Yesterday, Ms Waithera said the fight for the hotel will continue.

“There is a dispute. Some people have used fraud to increase their stake in the property.

“We challenge them to table proof that the other shareholders were involved in passing a resolution to increase the shares.” One of the shareholders, Mr George Kariuki, said the conflict has arisen because of a potential sale of the property.

“Why does the ownership arithmetic just change now this year? This is fraud,” he said.

Today, the family is launching an investigation at the office of the Registrar of Companies to see how the disputed shares were allegedly increased.

Yesterday, Ms Waithera said the Compensation claim In October 2011, Lady Justice Murugi Mugo ordered Attorney General Githu Muigai to appear in court and explain why the Commissioner of Lands had ignored court orders relating to Sh48 million awarded to the shareholders of the Fig Tree Hotel after a piece of their land was compulsorily acquired by the government for the construction of the Thika Superhighway.

The judge ordered the AG to explain how the money had been released to a section of the shareholders without the consent of all the parties.

Six shareholders of the hotel had filed contempt of court proceedings against the AG and four other members of the company over the release of the money.

After acquiring the land, the company was duly paid Sh48 million and parties agreed that the money be deposited in a joint account of their lawyers. One group, comprising six shareholders was represented by Omangi Musangi & Co. Advocates while four others were represented by E.K. Njagi & Co.

But the money was released to one set of shareholders led by Lucy Waithera Mwangi despite a court order.

In January 2010, the other group led by Stephen Kimanga filed contempt proceedings against the AG and their rivals led by Mwangi.

-NairobiNews

 Fig Tree Hotel shareholders Patrick Githinji, left, and his two brothers confront their cousins and hotel manager Lucy Waithera at the Fig Tree Hotel where they had gone to take over the management of the business. Denish Ochieng, NairobiNews

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