Outside the legal and corporate fields, a few Kenyans had heard about Nazir Jinnah before March this year. For many years, he has worked with leading law firms, among them Kenya’s Khaminwa & Khaminwa Advocates, Conrad Law & Consultancy in Nairobi and Mussolini & Dessel in the US.
In the process, he has represented tens of corporate and individual clients from Kenya to the UK and the US.
But when a shocking discovery in March by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) showed that the high-flying professional had no formal legal training, it removed the lid on a man who has trudged corridors of justice with the sheer force of self-confidence and valour even as questions were raised about his qualifications.
Mr Jinnah is now saying that he has never presented himself as a lawyer in his career.
When the Business Daily contacted him to clarify the issues raised against him, Jinnah requested to have his lawyer on the call. ‘‘If you give me a few minutes, I will call you back…I will have Nick Ndeda join us.’’
Jinnah sounds polite and speaks with a certain assuredness of manner.
He did not call back and instead shared the number of the said lawyer in a text message, promising that the latter would be talking with this reporter.
When he called, Ndenda said: ‘‘Mr Jinnah does not practice as a lawyer. He never has expressed to any person that he is an advocate of the High Court. He never has. That would be contrary to the law.’’
He added: ‘‘He does business development and client referrals. The actual [legal] practitioners do the real work of discharging the instructions.’’
On his engagement with various law firms locally and abroad, Ndeda said his client discharged the same functions of a business development.
‘‘It is a very tight community, the Hindu community and the Hindu-Muslim community. They trust each other [in business affairs] so much.’’
On the relationship between Jinnah and the beleaguered Mombasa beach property English Point Marina, his lawyer admitted that he has been a director at the property.
‘‘The directorship is not new. He has been there for a while. Between two and three years. Maybe more. I need to check my records,’’ Ndeda told this paper.
Is he a shareholder at the company? ‘‘You can be a director without being a shareholder.’’ But is he? ‘‘I cannot comment on the shareholding issue because it is under review by the BRS (Business Registration Service) and other organs of government.’’
How Jinnah became a director of the family-owned business is shrouded in mystery.
There have been allegations, about how Jinnah made his way into the shareholding of the Sh5 billion property. ‘‘We have documentations and evidence to back up our client’s position.’’
On his LinkedIn page, however, Jinnah lists himself as a director of ‘‘assets and legal affairs’’ at English Point Marina, a role he has held since 2016 to date.
Pressed to state how his client found himself in the ownership quagmire, Ndeda told the Business Daily:‘‘There may or may not have been some unscrupulous individuals who did some things. That is still up in the air. We are trying to review the shareholding structure at the moment.’’
For some time now, trouble has been brewing at the English Point Marina, which is owned by Pearl Beach Hotels, following accusations of fraud and money laundering by the developer. Meanwhile, homeowners who are said to have paid up to Sh600 million, claim to have been locked out of the luxury beach property.
Curiously, however, Ndeda is representing both Jinnah and English Point Marina, raising questions on the nature and extent of the disputes at the property.
Mr Jinnah is not new to the defence hemisphere of the courtroom. In 2002, he was arrested for skipping court hearings in Ontario, Canada during a case where he had been accused of a car-lease fraud. He was slapped with a non-custodial sentence for the offense.
The property is also embroiled in a loan default dispute with Kenya Commercial Bank, over a sum of Sh4.8 billion lent to them by the bank.
KCB has already placed the property under receivership and is likely to go after four of its four directors’ personal property after they guaranteed Sh1 billion each for the defaulted loan.