VENTURES AFRICA – Worth an estimated $1.2 billion, Daniel Arap Moi, President of Kenya from 1978 until 2002, certainly enjoyed the fruits of office. During his 28 years in power he infamously channelled nearly a billion dollars from government accounts into ones owned by his family, as well as private estates across the world. According to corporate investigation firm Kroll, this was done using a web of shell companies, secret trusts and front men. Now the former president’s assets, though some are held in his children’s names, include large cash reserves, a 10,000-hectare farm in Australia and controlling stakes in oil companies, banks and shipping companies.
Yet the former president has not been allowed to settle quietly into retirement, with many of the victims of his government launching legal challenges against Moi. These cases range from business related cases and property disputes to allegations of human rights violations, with many of them having had to wait for many years to take Moi to court due to the fact that while he remained president the law shielded him from criminal and civil suits. Now, though, the 87-year-old is embroiled in property and business disputes in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru, with a litigation bill that runs into millions of shillings.
Moi is using the legal firm of Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo – currently run by Kilonzo’s son and daughter – to fight the cases. At the head of the list is the 2 billion shillings ($24 million) penalty that Justice Jeanne Gacheche ordered him to pay former intelligence chief-turned-business partner Stephen Muriithi in April last year, a decision that Moi is appealing against. The dispute has unveiled a number of the business deals that Moi cut during his presidency. The judge found him guilty of detaining Muriithi, the former deputy director of the defunct Directorate of Security Intelligence, and a business associate, ruling that he was personally liable for detaining the ex-spy chief for three years without trial and ordered him to pay damages and compensation, with a 12 percent compound interest from July 1982.
Moi and Muriithi jointly owned land in Nairobi and Nakuru, with Moi selling much of its while the latter was detained in 1982. Other properties Mr Moi is accused of taking from the former spy-chief include Corner House, Atlas Building, Ruprani House and Kenwood House in Nairobi. Moi is also embroiled in many other property disputes in Nairobi and Mombasa. In Mombasa, former nominated MP Rashid Sajjad and businessmen Mohammed Bawazir and Mohammed Zubedi have filed a suit against the former president accusing him of using state resources to force them into changing the terms of an agreement for a piece of beach land he allegedly sold them in 1993. All these disputes are awaiting determination.
Moi is also in the Court of Appeal as he seeks to retain control of a private beach hotel in Mombasa. African Safari Club claims it cannot file tax returns for Flamingo Beach Hotel after it was taken over by state officers on instructions of Moi. The hotel has filed a suit against the Police Commissioner, Internal Security PS and Moi’s lawyer, Mr Kiplenge, saying police officers and Bisam Security Company agents are occupying the hotel and have locked out employees. In Nairobi’s High Court, directors of Tulip Properties Ltd, which claims to have bought a 14-acre piece of land in Embakasi from Moi, are fighting over the property with four businessmen who are also claiming ownership.