Real estate developer Suraya Property Group is embroiled in a multi-billion property tussle involving a member of the Kenyatta family and a listed investment company, barely two months after settling a similar dispute for Sh725 million.
Commercial Court judge Jonathan Havelock on Friday stopped the sale of 242 acres of land to British American Investment Company (K) Ltd for Sh700 million until the dispute is concluded.
Suraya Group director Peter Muraya had moved to court to block the sale of the land by Michael Muigai Kenyatta to the investment firm, saying the seller had undertaken to sell the land to Suraya for the construction of Oak Valley Estate, a gated community in Juja, off Thika Road.
The land comprises five titles in the name of Mr Kenyatta, who was selling the land to offset a Sh655 million debt owed to Barclays Bank of Kenya. Mr Kenyatta is a son of the late Peter Muigai Kenyatta and a nephew of Finance minister, Uhuru Kenyatta.
The lawyer for Suraya, Njoroge Regeru, told Mr Justice Havelock that there was a court order preserving the parcels pending the determination of a case filed last year.
Mr Regeru said Suraya Group had signed an agreement with Mr Kenyatta and Njomaitha Investments to build 751 houses on the land complete with a shopping mall, petrol station, primary school and two club houses.
The units would have comprised 279 town houses, 472 apartments and two club houses. The estate was to be built on 286 acres.
The dispute between the Bank and Mr Kenyatta over the sale of the charged properties was the first to be taken to court but Suraya was enjoined as an interested party.
Last year, Mr Justice Leonard Njagi directed that the property be preserved after the parties agreed to refer the case to arbitrators.
The arbitration yielded common ground on all but one parcel measuring 44 acres. Mr Regeru said Mr Justice Njagi was due to rule on the dispute.
However, Suraya said it had learnt that the land was being sold to British American Investments for Sh700 million and a deposit of Sh70 million had been paid. Mr Justice Havelock said the case was urgent and directed the parties to appear before him tomorrow.
On September 6, Suraya Group paid Nancy Wanja Gatabaki Sh725 million in cash and property in an out-of-court settlement over the ownership of the Sh30 billion Fourways Junction, nine kilometres north of Nairobi.
Mrs Gatabaki had gone to court alleging that the Murayas had illegally increased their stake in Muga Developers to 67 per cent, leaving the remaining 33 per cent stake to be shared between her and her husband.
She further alleged that she was kept in the dark while changes including the entry of a fifth shareholder, Frangie Investments, who was allocated a 12 per cent stake, took place.
In the initial agreement, Suraya Properties was to inject funds in the housing project while the Gatabakis contributed the land owned by Sagana Developers for a 50:50 stake in Muga Developers.
That arrangement meant Mrs Gatabaki had a 25 per cent stake in Muga Developers.
Muga’s articles of association allowed for the entry of a strategic partner to invest between Sh200 million and Sh300 million in the project in exchange for a stake.