Munga enters out-of-court talks over Sh150m loan row

Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Billionaire businessman and Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY chairman Peter Munga has entered into negotiations with Bethany Vineyards, a firm owned by his friend-turned-adversary Joseph Muturi Kamau, to settle a seven-year court battle that has seen him accused of defrauding the company of Sh150 million.

Justice Fred Ochieng has agreed to adjourn the suit for three weeks to create room for out-of-court negotiations following a request by lawyers representing Mr Munga, Bethany Vineyards and Mr Kamau.

Bethany Vineyards and Mr Kamau had claimed in the suit that Mr Munga has since 2011 refused to pay for three million Transcentury shares worth Sh150 million that he purchased from the firm.

Mr Kamau sold the shares in 2011 at Sh50 each to Mr Munga after failing to settle a Sh40 million loan he took from Equity Bank. The deal was to see Mr Munga clear Mr Kamau’s loan and remit the balance to him and his firm, Bethany Vineyards.

But Mr Kamau sued claiming that Mr Munga only cleared the loan balance then refused to remit to him or Bethany Vineyards the balance.

“By consent of the parties, mention of the case will be on July 20, 2017 for purposes of recording a settlement,” Justice Ochieng said after a request from lawyer Charles Kihara, representing Mr Munga, and Mr Kamau’s representative, Owino Opiyo.

Mr Munga had in March lodged a fresh bid to strike out the suit, arguing that Mr Kamau had not sought permission from the Bethany Vineyards board of directors before filing the suit.

But Mr Kamau denied the claim, and filed a resolution from Bethany Vineyards directors allowing him to pursue the case. Mr Kamau’s co-directors in Bethany Vineyards were businessman George Mburu and Mr Munga’s son.

Mr Kamau claims that his co-directors have since abandoned him as Mr Munga’s son allegedly grew cold feet while Mr Mburu left the firm after receiving 20 title deeds for land in Karen.
Mr Kamau, who describes himself as a long-time friend of Mr Munga, said the new application was meant to delay hearing of the suit on March 27, 2017.

He claimed Mr Munga had verbally assured him that the case ‘‘will never reach the hearing stage.’’ The parties were to appear before Justice Ochieng for directions, but instead asked him to adjourn the matter to allow them negotiate an out-of-court settlement.

Mr Kamau had also enjoined Equity Bank in the suit, as he blamed the lender for releasing his shares to Mr Munga before the entire purchase price had been paid.

The bank in 2015 lost its bid to exit the suit after Justice Ochieng ruled that its culpability in the alleged fraud could only be determined after the suit had been heard in entirety.