Kenya: Brothers Fight Over Control of Aviation Firm

Two brothers are embroiled in a bitter fight over the control of an aviation firm that provided helicopter services during the WRC Safari Rally in Naivasha last month.

Bharminder Singh Osahan and Mandeep Singh Osahan are locked in a legal battle over the ownership of Helicopters International Limited, which is based at the Wilson Airport in Nairobi.

Mr Bharminder has sued the firm over salary arrears of $240,000 (about Sh25 million). He is also demanding 40 per cent shares of the company as per a shareholders' agreement between him and his brother.

Mr Bharminder argues that his brother, the managing director, secretly sold at least 30 per cent shares of the firm against their agreement.

Suit papers filed in Nairobi show that between June 26, 2014 and February 2018, the company engaged him as a technical director. His duties included logistics, engineering, routine maintenance, quality checks, off-site support and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority audit reports.

He, however, claims that the firm is yet to meet its end of the bargain. Further, Mr Bharminder alleges that his brother short-changed him in distribution of shares, despite signing an agreement that he would control 40 per cent of the company.

Mr Bharminder is also demanding Sh128,953 he reportedly spent on air tickets between London and Nairobi for the four years he provided his services.

Sold shares

"Despite the plaintiff providing services for which he was engaged, the company failed to effect the share allocation. Helicopters International Limited, instead went ahead to sell at least 30 percent of its shares to another party. The plaintiff is demanding $240,000 (about Sh25 million) for services rendered," stated the suit papers.

"Helicopters International Limited has admitted that the plaintiff worked for the company, but he is yet to pay thereby necessitating this suit. Despite several requests and notifying the company of an intention to sue, on February 13, 2020, it failed to settle the payments."

Mr Bharminder wants to be paid the amount together with interest accrued.

In response, the company dismissed the claims as baseless and says Mr Bharminder lacks capacity to file the suit. The company states that Mr Bharminder's claim that he was promised shares "is not anchored in the law".

"The plaintiff's claim against the company as per the draft shareholders' agreement, was between the managing director, Mandeep Osahan Singh, and the plaintiff, hence he was not contracted by the company," states the firm, arguing that it's a separate legal entity and did not engage Mr Bharminder.

It maintains that if indeed the two brothers signed a shareholders' agreement, it was on their personal capacities, and not on behalf of the company.

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