Economy

Cohen widow in fresh row with in-laws over property

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Ms Sarah Wairimu Kamotho during an October 2019 court appearance in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Summary

  • The widow of Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen has launched a fresh fight against her estranged in-laws over control of the multi-million-shilling estate.
  • Sarah Wairimu, who was left empty-handed by her husband in his Will, is seeking revocation and annulment of a grant of letters of the estate administration given to her brother-in-law.

The widow of Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen has launched a fresh fight against her estranged in-laws over control of the multi-million-shilling estate.

Sarah Wairimu, who was left empty-handed by her husband in his Will, is seeking revocation and annulment of a grant of letters of the estate administration given to her brother-in-law by a Nairobi court.

The grant was issued to the tycoon’s elder brother Bernard Cohen on May 18, 2021, based on Cohen’s last written Will.

Ms Wairimu filed the succession case in December 2019 and was issued with a Special Limited Grant of Letters of Administration for purposes of preserving the estate.

She also sought to be issued with Cohen’s death certificate from the Registrar of Births and Deaths to enable her to apply for the grant of the estate administration.

But, pending determination of her application, Bernard filed a separate application— Petition for Probate of Written Will — dated August 31, 2020, and obtained the letters of estate administration.

In her application for revocation of documents issued to Bernard, the widow argues that she was not furnished with a copy of the petition and that there was collusion between siblings of the late tycoon and third parties.

Her advocates argue that the court proceedings that led to the issuance of the grant to Bernard are defective in substance, in that while she had a pending application seeking issuance of Cohen’s death certificate Bernard filed his case without presenting the death certificate.

In the court papers, she is described as the sole surviving spouse of Cohen, who died in Nairobi on an unknown date between July 20 and September 13, 2019. She is accused of killing the businessman.






and she is facing a murder case, in which she is jointly charged with businessman Peter Karanja.

The widow says Bernard’s Grant was obtained through concealment of material facts. The document was issued by Justice Lydia Achode and Ms Wairimu claims the Judge was biased against her.

At the centre of the property dispute is Tob's last Will dated April 30, 2019 which Ms Wairimu contests and claims is fake and a forgery.

To support her allegation, Ms Wairimu says she submitted the Will together with samples of known signatures and initials of Tob to a document examiner known as Emmanuel Kenga, a retired commissioner of police, for comparison and forensic examination.

"...there were no similarities between the signatures on the questioned Will and the known signatures of Tob," says Ms Wairimu in her fight against the Will.

The Will bequeathed the couple's matrimonial property situated in Lower Kabete to Gabriel Hannah Van Straten (50 per cent), Seth Van Straten (25 per cent) and Sharon Van Tienhoven Cohen (25 per cent). The property is said to be valued at over Sh400 million.

"She is a co-owner of the jointly owned matrimonial property and, as a surviving spouse, has an overriding life interest over the Tob's share in the matrimonial property as his sole surviving spouse," says Kimani & Michuki Advocates, her lawyers.

They say the Will also bequathed Tob's shares at Tobs Limited, all the bank balances at Rabo Bank Amstelveen Netherlands, NIC bank and others in the name of Tobs Limited to Gabriel. She was also given all Tob's movable assets including his motor vehicle.

The application will be heard on December 15, 2021.