Judge bars businessman from selling prime Nairobi land

Mr Justice Fred Ochieng during a past High Court hearing. PHOTO | FILE 

By BRIAN WASUNA, bwasuna@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted  Tuesday, November 29   2016 at  19:58

The High Court has stopped a Nairobi businessman, who owes hundreds of millions of shillings to several banks, from completing the sale of six parcels of land in Kileleshwa to settle the debts after he defaulted on paying legal fees.

Justice Fred Ochieng has barred Anwar Hussein from completing the sale of the land totalling 7.5 acres to Chinese real estate firm Sultan Palace for Sh945 million after he failed to pay his lawyers Majanja Luseno & Company Advocates.

Proceeds from the land sale were to be used to settle loans that the businessman, who is a director at Rapid Communications, owes to United Bank for Africa (UBA), I&M Bank and National Bank of Kenya.

Sultan Palace paid Sh153 million as deposit for the full purchase price, and has been paying off the balance in installments, but Mr Hussein failed to pay his advocates, prompting them to file an application to suspend the sale.

UBA has since 2104 been seeking to sell the land to recover a $4 million (Sh400 million) loan Mr Hussein secured with the land. It has since emerged that the property was also used to take an undisclosed amount of loans from I&M Bank and National Bank.

Last year, Mr Hussein sued UBA to stop it from auctioning the property, and the parties have since been fighting in court to settle the dispute.

Mr Hussein borrowed the funds through his firm Albright Holdings. The deal with Sultan Palace was also to see the Chinese developer transfer some holiday homes it has put up in Kilifi to the businessman. His advocates sought to have the court stop the sale of the land but did not disclose how much they were owed by their client.

“Pending the hearing and determination of this application, a temporary order is hereby issued restraining the purchaser (Sultan Palace), the plaintiff (Albright Holdings)…from paying to Albright Holdings…the balance of the purchase price in respect of an agreement for sale dated February 9, 2016,” the court order reads.

UBA is now claiming $5.5 million (Sh550 million) owing to interest that has accrued on Mr Hussein’s loan.

Another attempt to sell the land to another Chinese developer — Erdemann Properties — last year fell through.

Erdemann had agreed to buy the land for Sh1billion, but pulled out of the deal and demanded a refund of the Sh105 million deposit. The developer only received a refund of its deposit after suing Mr Hussein’s firm and Dubai Bank for holding onto the funds.

UBA, which holds the title deeds, moved to auction the land in 2014 after Mr Hussein’s firm defaulted on a restructured payment plan that was to see Albright and its sister firm Rapid Communications pay Sh140 million before settling the loan balance in installments.

Mr Hussein has twice claimed in court filings that UBA’s move to advertise for an auction of the land scared off potential buyers who were willing to take ownership of the prime property.

The disputed Kileleshwa property is already cleared for construction despite opposition from residents in the area who have filed a separate suit seeking to have it declared public land.

The Dik Dik Lane residents claim that the ownership documents were issued to Mr Hussein’s firm irregularly as the land lies on a swamp hence should not be interfered with.