Battle for Triton’s Sh700 million assets draws in more parties

A Triton filling station in Kisumu. Photo/JACOB OWITI
A Triton filling station in Kisumu. Photo/JACOB OWITI 

A move to enjoin new parties in the battle for the Sh700 million proceeds from the sale of Triton oil’s terminal has further complicated the sharing of the money among three financial institutions who had placed a charge on the asset bought by Swiss trading company, Vitol.

High Court Judge Luka Kimaru has allowed Kenya Commercial Bank to file an application seeking to enjoin the fallen company’s chairman Yagnesh Devani and his three directors, Sunil Somaia, Madedra Pathak and William Mundia.

KCB is also seeking to enjoin in the suit are Rui Florencio of Rotterdam, Netherlands and Dubai-based Stefan Elferink.

In the application, KCB wants the court to declare that the charge by Fortis Bank over property was made fraudulently at the behest of Fortis, Devani, Florencio and Elferink.

The court allowed KCB to amend its plaint and serve the new six defendants for a hearing on March 16.

The bank also wants the court to declare that Triton Bulk Storage Company was the registered proprietor of the suit of properties as a trustee for Mr Devani.

But Fortis Bank has previously contested the move by KCB to alienate them from the proceeds on the strength that Triton Bulk Storage created a charge on the property to secure financial advances of Sh75 million.

Local bank

The new development has triggered a fierce court battle for the scramble of proceeds of the crumbled oil empire.

Vitol paid $9.3 million to acquire the incomplete oil terminal at Kipevu, Mombasa.

The court is set to determine how the money will be shared between the three banks.

After the sale, conducted last year, the court directed that the proceeds be deposited in an escrow account with a reputable local bank.

The court had also warned the banks against interfering with the proceeds until a determination is made on the formula to be adopted in paying the creditors.

Signatories to the funds are advocates representing the three banks.

Vitol won the bid for the purchase of the incomplete oil stores after they out-shined State-owned National Oil Company of Kenya (NOCK).

The terminal is owned by the fugitive oil tycoon, Yagnesh Devani.

Nock had offered to buy the assets at $9.4 million (Sh705 million) against Vitol’s $9.3 million (Sh698 million).

Upon completion, the terminal would give Vitol a competitive edge in the fragmented Kenya and regional petroleum market.

The receiver managers, PKF Accountants and Business Advisers, had last year indicated that the parties would litigate over whose claim has greater entitlement to the proceeds.

Industry analysts opine that the oil facility at Kipevu offers a good opportunity for investors seeking to acquire independent tank capacity to serve EAC states.