Several prominent personalities who served in the Cabinet of former President Mwai Kibaki or their families have fallen into hard times as they battle auctioneers over unpaid bank loans.
Topping the list of the high-profile debtors are Raphael Tuju, who also served Kibaki as Foreign Affairs minister, the family of Njenga Karume, the late business tycoon and former Defence minister, and Gideon Ndambuki, an assistant Agriculture in the Kibaki administration.
Mr Ndambuki also served as a Cabinet minister in the Daniel arap Moi administration between 1998 and 2001.
They are struggling to hold onto their prime assets over mounting bank loans as Kenya’s economy slows and repossessions pick up.
Former Cabinet minister Suleiman Rashid Shakombo lost his house in Kilimani over a bank debt while assistant minister Stephen Tarus is fighting to stop the auction of his Karen home.
Keysian Auctioneers has also received bank notice over the auction of properties linked to two former ministers from the Coast, whom the Business Daily cannot name because the notices have not been made public.
Unpredictable weather over the past two years, a bank lending slowdown and reduced economic activity following two presidential elections are creating a growing pool of distressed borrowers whose assets are being seized by newly aggressive lenders.
“Things are tight, and a number of senior politicians who served the Kibaki administration are fighting auctioneers,” said an official of Keysian Auctioneers.
Mr Karume died barely seven years ago, leaving behind multi-billion shilling properties.
The shrewd businessman had, however, also accumulated a debt load that his family and a board of trustees he appointed to oversee his estate have struggled to clear.
In the prime of his business life, Karume was the biggest distributor of beer maker East African Breweries Limited’s #ticker:EABL products, a lucrative, long-term contract that earned him billions of shillings over the years.
The troubled Karume empire is facing a major test with the planned auction of the prime Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi to clear a Sh300 million bank loan. The family has up to April 22 to save the four-star hotel from the auctioneer’s hammer.
Mr Tuju is battling multiple cases in court, among them bankruptcy proceedings, over a botched finance deal he entered with the East African Development Bank (EADB).
Mr Tuju, currently the Jubilee secretary-general, is also fighting to stop the bank from auctioning his multi-billion shilling property in Karen to recover a debt of Sh1.6 billion.
He unsuccessfully fought to block the judgement, which was obtained in UK, from being adopted by the High Court.
The loans were meant for the construction of Sh100 million two storey, flat-roofed bungalows sitting on a 20-acre forested land dubbed Entim Sidai and the purchase of a 94-year-old bungalow built by a Scottish missionary, Albert Patterson, which currently operates as a high-end restaurant.
Former Internal Security assistant minister Tarus is fighting to block the auction of his Karen home in Nairobi over a Sh70 million NIC Bank #ticker:NCBA loan.
Mr Tarus served as an assistant minister during the Kibaki administration.
He also served as Kenya’s High Commissioner to Australia between 2009 and 2012 after losing his bid to be re-elected as MP for Emgwen Constituency in 2007. He had served as the Member of Parliament for Emgwen between 2003 and 2007.
His double-storey home sits on a 0.4708-hectare parcel in the upmarket Karen suburb and has more than five bedrooms.
The dispute involved NIC Bank’s bid to sell the home over non-payment of Sh75 million loan owed by Prayosha Ventures Limited, which is linked to the former assistant minister.
Mr Ndambuki’s six-storey hotel known as Roof Garden Hotel in Machakos town is also on the auctioneer’s radar over a Sh80 million loan.
Mr Shakombo, the National Heritage minister, was not lucky in his fight with KCB Group #ticker:KCB.
Mr Shakombo lost his house on Argwings Kodhek Grove, auctioned for Sh17 million after the lender accused the former Likoni MP of reneging on repaying a loan. It also took a court order for Mr Shakombo to be evicted from the house in 2016.