The late Njenga Karume. A trend of fighting over inherited wealth in Kenya shows that family ties are not that rosy when rich family's patriarchs die. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
- Mr Kung’u, a successful Nakuru-based businessman left behind a business empire estimated to be worth Sh50 billion.
- A few months after his death, Kung’u’s widow, his three daughters and a son turned against each other.
- One of the longest family dispute has been that of the late Mr Koinange’s beneficiaries which was determined by the High Court after 34 years but is now in the Court of Appeal.
- At the centre of the Koinange family dispute is Sh17 billion worth of wealth spread across investments in several companies and real estate.
- Still in Kiambu County, the family of former Cabinet minister Njenga Karume has turned his rags-to-riches story into a court battle over his wealth estimated to be over Sh200 billion.
An estimated Sh500 billion is at the centre of succession disputes between relatives of prominent multi-millionaires who left a legacy of successful business empires.
From late politicians Njenga Karume and Mbiyu Koinange to businessman Stephen Kagiri Kung’u, former spymaster James Kanyotu, and former Attorney-General Matthew Guy Muli, the trend of fighting over a patriarch’s wealth in court shows that family ties are not that rosy when the head of the family dies and bequeaths vast estates to members of his immediate family.
What is mind boggling is the amount of money and value of properties involved in the disputes that at times drag on in court for years, allowing lawyers to benefit by representing relatives who fail to agree on how to share their wealth.
Mr Kung’u, a successful Nakuru-based businessman who established his empire in the 1980s and 90s died in April last year, leaving behind an estate estimated to be worth Sh50 billion, including the well-known Hotel Kungste not far away from the Nakuru State House and Pivot Hotel in Shabab area of Nakuru.
A few months after his death, Kung’u’s widow, his three daughters and a son turned against each other, with all claiming to have been given the right to administer the late businessman’s vast wealth, including his bank accounts and large tracts of prime land.
In Nairobi, Kung’u owned Luthuli House, Ambassador Courts, Grace House, three-storey blocks in Hurlingham, Ojijo Plaza, shares in Kuka Investment Limited, block of buildings in Ngara, Shalom Prayer Centre, Parklands Villa and the Monte Carlo hotel.
The battle for his wealth started even before he was buried when his daughters, Ms Naomi Wambui, Ms Rahab Wamucii and Ms Bilha Wanjiku from his second wife sued Ms Grace Nyambura Kung’u and her son, Mr Kansas Kagiri Kung’u for excluding them in the burial plans.
The widow and her son went to court soon after the burial and obtained the rights to administer the estate.
On realising what had happened, the daughters filed another suit in Nairobi seeking an order to bar the two from taking over as administrators. The dispute is still in court.
One of the longest family dispute has been that of the late Mr Koinange’s beneficiaries which was determined by the High Court after 34 years but is now in the Court of Appeal.
At the centre of the appeal is Sh17 billion worth of wealth spread across investments in several companies and real estate. Two women who were stripped of their claim of being Mr Koinange’s widows want distribution of the estate put on hold until their appeal against the High Court judgment is heard and determined.
Ms Margaret Njeri and Ms Eddah Wanjiru claimed that it will be unfair if the other beneficiaries go ahead to divide the wealth when the issue of Mr Koinange’s widows is yet to be conclusively determined.
Mr Justice William Musyoka had in September last year declared that the two were not legally recognised as Mr Koinange’s wives and, therefore, could not inherit his wealth.
The judge listed 32 properties, which included farms in different parts of the country, and shares in companies and directed the two brothers to take urgent steps to recover assets which changed hands in unclear circumstances. Mr Koinange had vast land in Kiambu.
KARUME'S SH200 BILLION EMPIRE
Still in Kiambu County, the family of former Cabinet minister Njenga Karume has turned his rags-to-riches story into a court battle over his wealth estimated to be over Sh200 billion.
Mr Karume died in 2013, leaving behind mega investments in tourism, real estate, agriculture, transport, hospitality and several bank accounts with large sums of money.
The battle for Mr Karume’s wealth started as a normal, procedural inheritance case when the executors of his will filed an application for letters of grant to enable distribution of the properties.
However, three of Mr Karume’s children, Ms Lucy Wanjiru, Mr Albert Kigera and Mr Samuel Wanjema challenged their father’s last will, claiming it was drawn when he was not of sound mind.
The three also contested the manner in which the Njenga Karume Trust was being managed and sought removal of the trustees.
They accused the trustees of mismanaging the businesses, leading to massive losses.
Their applications triggered a barrage of counter-accusations from their siblings and stepmother, leading to a stalemate in distributing his estates. Again, the case is yet to be concluded.
MATTHEW GUY MULI FAMILY
The fact that the children of former Attorney-General Matthew Guy Muli are well-to do in society did not stop them from fighting over his multi-billion shillings estate.
Former transport Permanent Secretary Joseph Nduva Muli was at war with his mother, Mrs Evangeline Celeste Muli, and sisters Jane Nthane Muli and Lady Justice Agnes Murgor over allegations that he fraudulently obtained the shareholding of a company they inherited from their late father.
The sisters and their mother sought to stop Mr Muli from interfering with their late father’s company, Mukengesya Holdings Limited, or subdividing and disposing of pieces of land registered in the company’s name.
They also wanted to stop him from including his wife Elizabeth Wanjama, then vice-chairperson of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, from being included as a director in the company.
Former spy master James Kanyotu’s estates worth over Sh20 billion has also been a subject of protracted court battles pitying several women and their children claiming to be his beneficiaries.
Trouble over distribution of the late Kanyotu’s wealth started soon after his death in 2008, with some women claiming he had had children with them while others said they were his children born out of wedlock. All of them wanted to be considered as beneficiaries.
Mr Kanyotu had investments in land across the country, three companies, shares in Barclays Bank, the Sameer Group, Kenindia Assurance, Kentmere (1986) Ltd, Middle East Bank, Kenya Tea Development Agency KTDA), Kenya Melamine Manufacturers, Collindale Security and Collindale Limited.
The battle for his properties is pitying his three wives, Mary Wanjiku, Jane Gathoni and Margaret Nyakinya and their children. A fourth woman, Mercy Mumbi Mathenge, also claimed to have had a child with the spy master and is claiming a piece of the pie.