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Two bank executives thrown into custody over alleged forgery

Senior  Ecobank officials Michael Monari (left)
Senior Ecobank officials Michael Monari (left) and Wilfred Oroko at a Nairobi court yesterday. paul waweru 

Two Ecobank executives will spend two nights at the Muthaiga Police Station for allegedly forging the registration of a title deed for a property in Nairobi. 

Michael Monari, Ecobank’s managing director in Uganda and Wilfred Nyasimi Oroko, the bank’s senior group officer in Lome will remain in custody to allow the police to complete investigations.

Mr Monari and Mr Oroko arrived in the country on Monday from Kampala, Uganda and Lome, Togo, respectively and denied a forgery charge before anti-corruption magistrate Lucy Nyambura. 

They had been summoned to appear in court following accusations of obtaining registration by false pretence in a dispute between the bank and a property owner over the sale of a prime building in the Central Business District. 

Principal magistrate Ms Nyambura was told by the prosecution that the two top bank officials and others who were in court, procured for Akiba Bank, a precursor of Ecobank, the registration of replacement of change of title deed to property belonging to Mohamed Habib without his consent.  

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Both pleaded not guilty to the charges and will appear in court tomorrow for bail application. 

The prosecution said it had not completed its investigations because the two have been out of the country for a considerable period.
State prosecutor Onesmus Towett asked the court to order the two be remanded at Muthaiga Police Station, a plea the magistrate granted. 

Investigations have been going on since last year, but the two managers could not be charged because they moved to the High Court seeking to stop prosecution but the case was thrown out by Mr Justice Mohammed Warsame. 

The complaint against the managers was lodged by businessman Mohamed Abubakar who asked the police to investigate an alleged forgery of charge and registration of a title of Nairobi Hotel Downtown belonging to his family. 

The title had been charged to the bank by the late Mohamed Habib after he borrowed a loan of Sh7.5 million from the bank.
By the time he died in 2007, he had repaid Sh6.5 million, but the bank was still claiming Sh105 million.

The hotel was later sold on December 15, 2008 to a businessman John Kariuki Ngururi for Sh60.5 million and thereafter, Mr Abubakar was ordered to pay monthly rent to the new owner.   Mr Abubakar claims the two senior managers signed the charge as directors of the bank and the charge was a clear forgery as Habib died in June 17, 2007 but it was signed and executed in December 31, 2008.
The two are alleged to have unlawfully varied terms of the agreement on property LR208/4356 and forwarded it to the bank on February 25, 2009.

On March 30, Mr Justice Warsame threw out an application by the bank and directed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to arrest and arraign in court Mr Monari and Mr Aroko for alleged forgery.

The court heard during the earlier hearing that the replacement of the charge on the title and the subsequent transfer of the property could only have been achieved through fraud by officials at the bank and lands registry.

Mr Abubakar submitted through his lawyer that his father had repaid Sh6.29 million which covered 90 per cent of the principal sum when the bank exercised its statutory power of sale.

He was also aggrieved by the compound interest rate of 34 per cent per annum charged on the loan.

Justice Warsame said evidence adduced disclosed criminal acts and omissions “which must be investigated, prosecuted, and determined by the court.”

A valuation report put the market value of the four-storey building located along Nairobi’s Mokhtar Dadar Street behind Nakumatt Lifestyle at Sh105 million.

Mr Abubakar’s application followed the invasion of the premises by Kindest Auctioneers on alleged instructions of Mr Ngururi to levy distress for Sh8.8 million rent arrears.

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