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How the former Finance Minister’s widow ‘lost’ Sh17 billion worth of land in three hours

https://www.kenyaupdates.co.ke/how-the-former-finance-ministers-widow-lost-sh17-billion-worth-of-land-in-three-hours/
On May 3, Margaret Wairimu Magugu, the former finance minister Arthur Magugu’s widow (inset), was in her Ridgeways residence. A private company, Karura Investments Ltd, and Ms. Magugu are engaged in a legal dispute over ownership of an 82.4-acre plot in the Nairobi neighborhood of Muthaiga./ Kenya Updates

How the former Finance Minister’s widow ‘lost’ Sh17 billion worth of land in three hours

Investigations into transactions involving Sh17 billion worth of property that were finished in under three hours, including the discharge of collateral, transfer, subdivision, valuation, stamp duty assessment, payments, and processing of new titles, are still ongoing.

The argument took a turn last month when the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) summoned a Ministry of Lands official who expressed concern.

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Given that the most recent development conflicts with a report that determined the transactions were questionable, the 1993-old affair appears to have caused division inside the DCI.

On October 25, 1993, did Arthur Kinyanjui Magugu, a former finance minister, sell the 82.4 acres in Nairobi, which are presently worth Sh17.05 billion, to a private company?

The Magugu family and Karura Investments Ltd. are engaged in a bitter ownership dispute over the Muthaiga property, with the latter demanding payment of a loan of Sh24.7 million from the former minister in exchange.

Magugu’s family began the succession procedure after his passing in September 2012. He had bought various plots of land throughout the course of his life, but he had never made a will.

Margaret Wairimu Magugu, the widow, was confirmed as the executor of the estate on October 10, 2016, by Justice William Musyoka of the High Court’s family division.

The division of Magugu’s fortune was likewise approved by the judge. The 82.4 acres in Muthaiga were to be given to Ms. Magugu in complete ownership. In December 2022, the real estate consultancy Hass Consult estimated that an acre was worth Sh207 million.

But after the succession process was over, Ms. Magugu found another player—Karura Investments Ltd.—claiming all but 19.1 acres. The corporation was set up on August 2nd, 1993.

When Mr. Kamwere submitted an application at the Survey of Kenya, a computation number—which is like to a transaction ticket—indicated as 23380 was given to him.

The procedure took five years, and on October 25, 1993, the land was finally divided into L.R. numbers 12422/203 and 12422/204, each measuring 12.9 and 88.6 acres, respectively.

On the same morning, a second application to divide the bigger share was submitted; the procedure took three and a half hours to complete.

The computation number assigned to the application was 23380, the same as Magugu’s from five years prior.

On the same morning, a second application to divide the bigger share was submitted; the procedure took three and a half hours to complete. The computation number assigned to the application was 23380, the same as Magugu’s from five years prior.

The bigger chunk was divided into L.R 12422/318, which is 6.1 acres. Eleven years after this item was registered to Magugu, the title deed was finally completed.

A second piece, L.R. 12422/319, measuring 82.4 acres, was registered to Karura Investments practically immediately, and the title deed was prepared on October 25, 1993.

The family and Karura are at odds because of the transfer.

According to Magugu’s family, Karura Investments obtained the 82.4 acres by using the initial subdivision application as leverage.

For each subdivision application, the Survey of Kenya often assigns a computation number, a singular identifier akin to a ticket. However, the number is 23380 in both parts of the Muthaiga property.

In a letter to Ms. Magugu’s attorneys in 2019, Priscilla Wango, a surveyor at the Ministry of Lands who was also seconded to the Survey of Kenya, claimed that the computation number made the property transfer illegal.

“A fresh job request for a subdivision survey has been made. According to Ms. Wango’s letter, which was included in the NLC proceedings, “There was an irregularity and the Director of Survey is unable to state the purpose of survey of L.R. 12422/318 and 319 as it is not supported by complete survey record.”

The DCI called Ms. Wango on April 11, 2023, and asked her to provide a statement on why she wrote the letter.

The NLC expressed concern about the quantity as well.

“It is practically impossible to register a discharge, a transfer, a subdivision, value a parcel of land, assess stamp duty, and pay the same in less than three hours,” NLC investigator Antipas Nyanjwa stated in his findings.

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