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Late Nginyo’s children risk jail over 4bn estate wars

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The children of the late tycoon Lawrence Nginyo Kariuki are risking jail terms after the High Court ruled that they had appropriated part of his assets before being granted permission to run the estate.

The court also directed that a forensic audit to be conducted on the Sh4 billion estate after the widow (Margaret Wangari Nginyo) colluded with her children Jane Alice Wambui Kiragu and Silas Macharia Kariuki to withdraw more than Sh70 million from late Nginyo’s bank accounts at I&M Bank and Consolidated Bank of Kenya.

They have done many other similar withdrawals with claims that the money was being used to pay legitimate expenses, including settling debts of the estate and funding the late billionaire’s funeral.

But the ruling by Justice Stella Mutuku delivered on Tuesday explained that the withdrawals were illegal because the will has been contested meaning the three will face exposing legal action.

“Without authority to support their actions, I am constrained to make a finding that the acts by the executors or respondents in dealing with the estate as they did, amounts to inter-meddling in the estate of the deceased,” Justice Mutuku said.

She added that anyone found guilty of illegally appropriating the property of the deceased will face a fine not exceeding Sh10,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or both. Justice Mutuku further ordered the three to account for the money they withdrew from bank accounts of the estate.

“The respondents shall refund to the estate all and any of the proceeds they have withdrawn from the deceased’s accounts and or misappropriated from the entire estate,” the orders read in part.

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Nginyo Towers in Nairobi’s central business district [p/courtesy]

The late tycoon owned land and buildings in Nairobi, Kiambu and Ngong valued at a total of Sh3.2 billion with one of his most famous property being Nginyo Towers in Nairobi’s central business district. Kariuki also owned a 120-acre farmland in Tigoni, Kiambu County, producing coffee, tea and livestock. The farm that now makes a small profit has monthly expenses of Sh1.7 million.

The deceased also had a total of Sh335 million in fixed deposit accounts at Consolidated Bank of Kenya while his investment firms, including Nginyo Investments and Pema Holdings, have assets valued at Sh221.3 million.

But the court case is now threatening to freeze the late Nginyo Kariuki’s estate that would leave the heirs with Sh400 million each if it is equally distributed to Margaret and the nine children.

The legal battles began after Brenda filed an application objecting to the will, which only listed Margaret and her six children as the heirs and left out other children born out of wedlock. She sued Consolidated Bank, I&M Bank and Co-operative Bank — over hundreds of millions of shillings in accounts and for offering Margaret’s children access to the finances without letters of administration.

“….This proves that the deceased was not of his free mind as the deceased did not know and/or could not remember the other three children who are not children of Margaret Wangari Nginyo Kariuki at the time of making the alleged will but only remembered all the children of Margaret Wangari Nginyo to the exclusion of all others.” Brenda told the court.

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