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Economy

Trustees of Karume empire fight removal from estate

Lawyer Peter Munge (right), serves a court order to Jacaranda Hotel chief security officer Solomon Itati Mulungi and senior security supervisor Damson Kigode Amaya barring ongoing construction at Pizza Garden. PHOTO | FILE |
Lawyer Peter Munge (right), serves a court order to Jacaranda Hotel chief security officer Solomon Itati Mulungi and senior security supervisor Damson Kigode Amaya barring ongoing construction at Pizza Garden. PHOTO | FILE |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

The managers of a trust opened by Njenga Karume to manage his properties have accused three of the late tycoon’s children of plotting a coup to overturn their father’s will and take over the vast multibillion-shilling estate.

The trustees said in court papers that the ouster bid by the three is a ploy by the Karume kin to forcibly take over their father’s property, which they estimate to be worth Sh100 billion.

Albert, Samuel and Lucy Karume last week obtained a court order stopping the trustees from interfering with immovable assets in the late tycoon’s estate, including Pizza Garden, and Jacaranda Hotel.

They accused the managers of mismanaging the trust and neglecting its beneficiaries. The managers now say the children hoodwinked the court into issuing the orders.

“The allegations made by the three children before this court are not only false, but are also a bogeyman they conjured to justify their true objective which is to thwart their late father’s dying wishes and to install themselves in the day-to-day control of the assets of the trust,” the managers said.

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The trustees hold that Mr Karume chose to leave the management of his multi-billion shilling estate to a trust rather than his children.

Mr Karume died in 2012 and left assets spread out in nine companies.

He left the management of his estate to a trust, with Nduta Kamithi, Kung’u Gatabaki, Henry Waireri Karume and George Ngugi Waireri as its managers.

Ms Kamithi — the late tycoon’s sister and one of the trustees — says that the children were informed of the plan to renovate Pizza Garden, a popular restaurant in Nairobi’s Westlands suburb, that is part of the estate.

Albert, Samuel and Lucy Karume had in last week’s application accused the trustees of wasting away their father’s property, including Pizza Garden.

Ms Kamithi, however, said the children had previously tried to lie to the court in an attempt to stop the renovation of the luxurious Jacaranda Hotel in Mombasa.

While the three children opposed Jacaranda’s renovation, the trustees now say that the late billionaire businessman was behind the project aimed at making the hotel competitive against neighbouring facilities like Villa Rosa Kempinski, Sankara, Tribe and other internationally acclaimed hotels.

The trustees say operations of the politician’s empire was hinged on bank and shareholder borrowing, which left it with massive debt.

An audit on his business empire done shortly after Mr Karume’s death shows that his nine companies only posted a Sh5 million net profit for the period between 2008 and 2012.

“The trust has come up with policies such as the school fees policy which are communicated to all beneficiaries, and ensure the limited resources available under the circumstances are deployed in the most effective and equitable manner,” she said.

The trustees say that between 2012 and 2014, they spent Sh164 million on the beneficiaries’ school fees, upkeep, insurance and other financial commitments.
The trustees want the court to throw out last week’s application.

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