Directors acquitted in Sh13 billion Fig Tree Hotel theft saga

Date:

A picture of Fig Tree hotel in Ngara. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The resolution of a Sh13billion dispute over the ownership of a 300-acre parcel of land within Nairobi County and the iconic Fig Tree Hotel Limited (FTHL) is in the offing after the determination of a theft case against three directors.

Acquitting Ms Lucy Waithera Mwangi, Julius Kariuki Mwangi and John Irungu Githinji in the Sh48.8million theft case, chief magistrate Francis Andayi said his the decision will pave way for the determination of a directorship dispute pending in the high court over the Sh1billion hotel and other enterprises.

“This decision will spark resolution of the high court case which this court has no jurisdiction to discuss,” Mr Andayi ruled.

The magistrate said the prosecution failed to avail evidence to show the three directors stole the Sh48.8million paid as compensation for the compulsory acquisition of FTHL’s land on which the Thika Super-Highway runs through.

“Two auditors who appeared before me said the law allows directors of a company to operate separate accounts even without a resolution of the shareholders,” Mr Andayi stated.

He exonerated the three directors from blame that they had stolen the Sh48.8million received from the government.

“They committed no wrong,” ruled Andayi while terminating the criminal case which he noted was fueled by hate and greed amongst the shareholders.

The three directors who were managing FTHL had opened two accounts at Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY Limited in Donholm and Ngara Branches where they deposited the Sh48.4millions.

Besides the Equity Accounts, Mr Andayi said the directors also operated other bank accounts which the 21 shareholders of FTHL had authorized them to open.

SH26m renovations

“When police obtained orders to confiscate the funds in the two accounts they recovered over Sh22.3million which they produced as exhibit in court,” noted the magistrate.

He added the complainants led by Stephen Kimang’a obtained further court orders for the Sh22.3million to be released to them for the running of the hotel which they never deed but closed it down to date.

The magistrate said the accused had told the court they spent the Sh26million in carrying out renovations in the hotel.

Andayi said when he visited the scene he saw the parking, shops, sewer-line, kitchen and rooms which were constructed and renovated using the Sh26million they were compensated by the government.

Mr Andayi said he saw documents strewn all over the floors of the closed-down classic hotel which is a stone throw from the Central Business District (CBD) when he visited it for fact-finding.

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