Kenya: William Kabogo in Sh4.5bn Tatu City Land Bribery Dispute

Former Kiambu Governor, William Kabogo is embroiled in a Sh4.5 billion land bribery row with private investors behind the expansive Tatu City development.

The investors have accused the former Kiambu county boss of illegally holding onto five title deeds as part of a ploy to blackmail them into ceding a five per cent stake in a section of the multibillion-shilling project.

Mr Kabogo has filed two suits against Tatu City and some of its directors and sister companies, claiming to have been given title deeds to 128 acres worth at least Sh4.5 billion, after agreeing to buy another 100 acres from the real estate firm.

But Stephen Jennings, a major shareholder in the Tatu City project, has claimed in court filings that Mr Kabogo has fabricated a series of events to try and trick the High Court into declaring that the politician is entitled to five per cent of any proceeds that the developers will earn from a 128-acre section of the development.

Mr Jennings states that the former Kiambu governor is not the registered owner of Gilulu Investments and Acres and Homes - the two firms Mr Kabogo claims to have used in the dealings with Tatu City.

He adds that if Mr Kabogo is the beneficial owner of the two firms, then he must be investigated for laundering funds illegally acquired from Kiambu County.

Questionable transactions

The suit has blown the lid on questionable transactions that Mr Kabogo entered into with the private developer while still serving as Kiambu governor.

Mr Kabogo says he met Mr Jennings twice in 2015 to iron out details of an agreement.

The former Kiambu governor claims that during a meeting at the Lord Eroll hotel in Ruaka, Mr Jennings offered him a five per cent stake in sections of Tatu City on account of the politician's "good will, business acumen, reputation, political experience and financial wherewithal".

Mr Kabogo claims that Mr Jennings was to sort out any finances involving his onboarding at Tatu City.

Aside from the shareholding deal, Mr Kabogo claims that he paid Sh348 million to Rendeavour Services, a Tatu City shareholder associated with Mr Jennings, as a 10 per cent deposit for 100 acres within the real estate project.

But Mr Jennings has hit back at the former governor, challenging him to provide any agreement or evidence of payment for the claimed five per cent stake in the Tatu City properties.

The transfer was done on May 31, 2016, and the Sh3.7 billion balance within 12 months.

Mr Jennings argues that Mr Kabogo entered into a sale agreement with Fundamental Property Limited, which he insists is a separate legal entity from Tatu City and other sister firms.

Four title deeds

While Mr Kabogo says that completion of the purchase price was pegged on lifting of court orders from other cases which froze transfer of land from Tatu City and its sister companies, Mr Jennings argues that the agreement only had a clause to pay the balance within 12 months.

"If it is true, which is not admitted and denied, that it is indeed Mr Kabogo, the former governor of Kiambu County who provided the finance of the agreement to the tune of $34,485,290.40 (approximately Sh4 billion) and is the human face and force behind the agreement between Gilulu Investments and Fundamental Property, then the agreement is null and void ab initio as it is proceeds of crime and money laundering as it must have been acquired as a result of corrupt dealings during his tenure as governor of Kiambu County," Mr Jennings says in court papers.

Mr Jennings says that Mr Kabogo did not complete the payments within 12 months, and cannot now cry foul.

Mr Kabogo's 10 per cent deposit was refunded.

The politician is currently in custody of four title deeds to land parcels measuring 105 acres, and claims that Tatu City gave him the ownership documents as part of the deal that was to see Mr Kabogo get a five per cent stake in the project.

On April 19, Tatu City and its sister company Oaklands Properties Kenya wrote to Mr Kabogo's companies demanding that the title deeds be returned.

Ownership of parcels of land

"There exists a partnership agreement between the plaintiff and the 1st-4th defendants. The said partnership commenced in the year 2015 when Mr Jennings made an offer to Mr Kabogo. The offer, which Mr Kabogo accepted was that Mr Jennings would "buy in" Mr Kabogo to Tatu City Limited.

The said partnership at will has been sustained over the years by terms that are partly oral and partly written," Mr Kabogo says in court papers.

Mr Jennings argues that there is no evidence to show why Mr Kabogo would claim the five per cent stake in Tatu City, and insists that the former governor is lying to the court on how he came to be in possession of the title deeds.

"Mr Kabogo's alleged ownership of the five parcels of land through what he calls "beneficial ownership" is entirely without consideration. Mr Kabogo is holding Oaklands Properties' titles as part of an extortion scheme. Mr Kabogo's entire claim is based on obvious and plain extortion and/or blackmail and is thus a criminal enterprise poorly clothed in a legal claim.

Mr Kabogo claims that companies and individuals buying land in the affected sections have been asked to send money to him, a move that could create more legal trouble if buyers are caught up in the feud.

The former Kiambu governor says that he was represented by Mary Chege in the transactions with Tatu City and its affiliates, but that the lawyer has switched sides to conceal evidence of the deals at the behest of the real estate project's developers.

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