Hydro Developers under probe for land grabbing and fraud

In a tale of forgery and collusion fraudsters posing as directors of Hydro Developers illegally transferred 300 acres to themselves and got government to pay them Sh200m to boot for a section where the Northern Bypass sits

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Part of the Northern Bypass during construction. Hydro Developers made a claim for compensation using forged documents that, somehow, escaped the ministry of Land’s scrutiny.
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By Payton Mathau

The sale and transfer of a 300-acre property in the Githurai 44 area has come under scrutiny from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) after it emerged that transaction was irregular.

Detectives from DCI headquarters are probing the transfer of the multi-billion shilling land sale, which had been registered to Miaraho Ltd, a company associated with a former provincial commissioner but whose directors changed mysteriously to individuals who were nine and fourteen years old at the time of registration.

The property has since changed hands and been transferred to an estate developer involved in other land controversies.

The said developer neither responded to phone calls nor returned text messages sent repeatedly by The Nairobi Law Monthly in the course of doing this story.

The 302-acre piece of land along the Northern Bypass was last month advertised for sale by real estate developer Hydro Developers Limited in last week’s daily paper.

The land in question belongs to a company, Miaraho Limited, whose directors include, John Godhard Mburu, a former provincial commissioner for Nairobi, who served under Presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi.

Records at the ministry of Land indicate that Miaraho Ltd acquired the land on May 9, 1974 from Katunda Coffee Estates Limited. Miaraho Ltd was registered on June 11, 1973 under Certificate of Incorporation Number 11739.

Records from the ministry show that Miaraho Ltd entered into transactions with various banks under their chairman J.G. Mburu, after which no further transactions were entered into, with the land remaining vacant until recently.

However, people who presented themselves as the directors of Miaraho Ltd entered into a sale agreement with directors of Hydro Developers Ltd on behalf of the company.

Transaction records show that Miaraho, represented by Patrick Githinji Mwangi of ID Number 9089926 – born on March 29, 1965 in Murang’a East but a resident of Ol Kalou – and Titus Thuo Macharia of ID No. 188912, Maragua, Murang’a East, born December 3, 1959, as well as Mukesha Kumar Velji Salva of ID No. 8745305 and Rajesh Velbhai Salva of ID No. 13299876, of Hydro Developers, were the signatories to the agreement.

When the government initiated the Northern Bypass construction project, the two supposed directors presented themselves to the Land ministry posing as bona fide Miaraho Ltd directors and, in collusion with ministry officials, made claims for compensation.

Documents in possession of The Nairobi Law Monthly show that the two individuals, posing as Miaraho Ltd directors, changed their national identity cards and posed as the original directors. They forgot that their dates of birth could expose them to a keen scrutiny by hawk-eyed DC detectives.

What is more, the ministry of Land has all correspondence of the land transactions since the 1970s, and records place the two impostors as having been nine and 15 years respectively at the time the company was registered.

Despite these anomalies and records in the ministry, file number 18928, ministry officials colluded to release Sh201,933,250 to an account number 3003070/CD/1 at Giro Commercial Bank Ltd, in the name of Miaraho Ltd, whose opening was facilitated by use of the forged IDs and certificate of incorporation which, to date, cannot be traced at the Registrar of Companies.

Interestingly, Giro Commercial Bank, which has now been bought off by I&M Bank, shared the same directors with the firm that now purports to have bought the – Hydro Developers Ltd.

Further investigations have established that the Sh201.9 million was shared between the two fraudsters, and an amount of Sh 26,746126 was wired to account number 0120001029000 at Consolidated Bank in the name of E.K Njagi & Co Ltd for the benefit of the estate of the late Mwangi Githinji, as per records on March 11, 2011.

Interestingly, Miaraho, represented by the two directors, entered into an agreement to sell the land for Sh200 million, three months even before the first transaction from the Ministry of Lands had been received, and they surrendered all their rights to Hydro Developers Ltd, represented by Mukesh Velji Salva of ID No. 8745305 and Ajay Velji Shah of ID No. 13299876.

Salva was a director at Giro Commercial Bank, where the land compensation payment by ministry was to be wired.

With the contract signed by Macharia and Githinji, Hydro Developers Ltd proceeded to occupy the said land and surrendered a title to the ministry to legitimise the acquisition and start the subdivision. This is despite the fact that the late Camelina Mburu, widow of the late J.G. Mburu visited the property and cautioned them against the transaction.

Camelina Mburu once went to meet then Land minister Charity Ngilu to lodge a complaint over fraudulent acquisition of some of her late husband’s property by unscrupulous dealers.

The ministry proceeded to value the land at Sh 1,080,000,000 on July 15, 2011 but there are no records that Hyrdo Developers Ltd ever paid for the land.

The only apparent transaction is the Sh 200 million paid by the ministry into the Giro Commercial Bank account as compensation for the acquisition of part of the land on which the Northern Bypass sits.

Further, there are no records that Hydro Developers paid Stamp Duty for the Sh1,080,000,000 that the government valued the property at.

The advertisement for the sale of the land made last month directs potential buyers to go through Mwaniki Gachoka & Company Advocates, which is similar to a law firm previously run by the lawyer Mwaniki Gachoka – a commissioner at the Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Directors of Miaraho Limited through their lawyer, Howard, Nicks & Kenneth Advocates, in a letter dated May 4, 2018, wrote to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Land and Physical Planning on the alleged fraudulent transfer and subdivision of land, Title No. IR. 1213, L.O. No 4927, original deed plan No. 22896, in a letter referenced as Miaraho/5/112/2018.

The letter which was received by Hydro Developers on May 7, 2018, is copied to the Director, DCI, Director, General Financial Reporting Centre (FRC), National Land Commission (NLC), chairperson National Assembly Land Committee, Giro Commercial Bank and the Office of the Governor, Nairobi.

The investigators are trying to establish how two people who allegedly sold the land to the estate developer acquired ownership of the huge track of land when they were only nine and fifteen years old.

The two are supposedly directors of a company registered in 1974 when they were nine and 15 years old according to their National Identification cards issue.

The land has been subdivided into 40 by 80, five acre and one acre blocks for sale as River Island under Pink House Management.

The advert by Hydro Developers last month reads,

“We refer to the above and kindly wish to lodge a complaint against a company by the name Hydro Developers Limited who purports to have acquired the above property from Miaraho Limited. Please note that Miaraho Ltd directors as constituted have never entered into agreement with Hydro Developers Ltd for acquisition of the above noted property…”

According to the copy of the Title IR 1213 charge No. 27, the transfer of title to Miaraho Ltd was entered in Land records as presentation No. 765 dated May 17, 1974.

Cache of contradictions

Katunda Coffee Limited, previously wrote to the Land ministry for a provisional title on February 19, 1974 and transferred the property No. 4927 to Miaraho Ltd on May 9, 1974.

Notice of Publication of Gazette Notice from the Registrar of Titles, S. Khosla, to the Government Printers was sent on June 20, 1974.

A provisional title was issued to Katunda Coffee Limited, and the entries for sale to Miaraho Ltd through agreement on May 9, 1974.

Compensation for acquisition of the land of Sh 200 million by ministry for the Northern Bypass was paid to Miaraho Ltd under account number 3003670/CD/1 Giro Bank Limited.

Records show that Miaraho got a loan from Kenya Commercial Bank on May 17, 1974 but on the same day another document shows that there was a transfer on that document.   

In their letter through Howard, Nicks and Kenneth Advocates, Miaraho Ltd directors state that the land belongs to them and that the original title, which was supposedly replaced by a provisional title as per presentation number 1216, is still in their custody. Letters, reference LND 16/03/7/32, from then Nairobi Provincial Commissioner, confirms that LR No.4927 belonged to Miaraho Ltd as did another letter, Reference No. 16/3/7/5, from Kumoru Advocates, on February 5, 1974.

Interestingly, one of the purported directors, Patrick Githinji registered a caveat through Presentation Number 292 of 19/01/2005, claiming benefits yet he was a signatory in the sale contract between Miaraho Ltd and Hydro Developers Ltd.

And when Hydro Developers allegedly paid Sh200 million on June 12, 2011 for the said land, through Miscellaneous Application Number 276 of 2010, Nyambura Mwangi filed a case challenging the transaction by the Commissioner of Lands as compensation for compulsory acquisition of part of L.R. NO 4929 for construction of the Northern Bypass. (

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