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Criticos lodges fresh Sh3.5 billion claim against NBK

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Basil Criticos (left) wants the court to summon NBK top officials over sale of his 16,000-acre land. Photo/Paul Waweru

Basil Criticos (left) wants the court to summon NBK top officials over sale of his 16,000-acre land. Photo/Paul Waweru 

By BENSON WAMBUGU

Posted  Tuesday, June 12  2012 at  18:43

Former Taveta MP Basil Criticos has lodged a fresh claim of over Sh3.5 billion against the National Bank of Kenya (NBK) alleging irregular sale of his land in Taita Taveta district.

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Mr Criticos on Tuesday asked Commercial Court judge Daniel Musinga to summon the bank’s managing director, Reuben Marambii, and company secretary Leonard Kamweti to give evidence on the alleged sale of his 16,000-acre farm.

He told Mr Justice Musinga through his lawyer, Allen Gichuhi (above right), that the evidence of the two would be crucial to explain why they abused the court process and ignored orders stopping the sale of the property.

“The greatest prejudice will be caused to the administration of justice if the two witnesses are not summoned to explain the acts of contempt by entering into a sale agreement and transferring the charged property on the same day even before the purchaser had released the funds,” states Mr Criticos’ application.

Further, Mr Criticos argues that it would also be a travesty of justice if the testimony of the two “is not heard as they must explain why the court orders were disobeyed.”

The former legislator claims the land, measuring approximately 15,994.5 acres, was sold in September 2007 to the Settlement Fund Trustees (SFT) to recover a loan of Sh20 million advanced to Agro Development Company in which Criticos was a director and a shareholder.

He says the land was grossly undervalued and the sale was illegal because it was not consented by the land board. The loan was advanced to Agro Development Company between 1990 and 1991.

To secure the loan, Mr Criticos charged the property to Kenya National Capital Corporation (KNCC), which was succeeded by NBK.

The businessman told Mr Justice Musinga that in April 1997, the bank wrote to him demanding about Sh66.5 million from the company including interest of 35 per cent per month. He was given three months to repay the amount, but told the court that his effort to sell the land and offset the loan were frustrated by several court cases and restraining orders against the sale.

But as the cases were pending and court orders in place, Mr Criticos argues that the bank sold the land to SFT for Sh55 million through a private treaty. He, however, says there is no evidence that payments were made to the KNCC to settle the debt although the transfer was allegedly signed by Mr Marambii and Mr Kamweti.

He claims the bank demanded a further Sh106 million.

Other than the allegation that the land was sold at lower price, Mr Criticos says that sisal plantations covering 4,200 acres were destroyed and wants bank compelled to pay him US $42,056,640 which he would have earned from the sisal sales. 

Mr Criticos submitted he was never served him with a statutory notice of complaint in compliance with the Transfer of Property Act. Further in the amended plaint, Mr Criticos says that the bank was at all times fatally mistaken that the charged property fully secured the entire indebtedness of the Agro Development.

The politician says because the property was only charged to secure Sh20 million with interest, the court should issue a declaration discharging him from all liabilities. Be compensated and paid costs of the suit.