Saturday, August 6, 2011

Passaris’ turn in the dock in new property battle with tycoon

File | NATION Businesswoman Esther Passaris

File | NATION Businesswoman Esther Passaris. 

By PAMELA CHEPKEMEI pjepkemei@ke.nationmedia.com

Businesswoman Esther Passaris and businessman Pius Ngugi, a man she previously accused of breaching a promise to marry her, are back in court.

Unlike in the previous case where Ms Passaris took Mr Ngugi to court, she is the defendant this time round.

In the suit lodged at the High Court in Nairobi, Mr Ngugi claims that Ms Passaris — who shot to fame with her business venture to light up Nairobi with her adopt-a-light campaign — has continued to harass him by asking for more money.

He says Ms Passaris has used all manner of threats to coerce him to accede to her demands.

Mr Ngugi and Ms Passaris, who called a truce in the previous cases and decided to settle them amicably, are fighting over a company that owns property in Spring Valley.

The property, which Mr Ngugi says fetches a rental income of Sh350,000, is  registered under  Mama Trust Fund, set up for the two children Ms Passaris claims were fathered by Mr Ngugi.

Mr Ngugi is accusing Ms Passaris of mismanaging the trust fund that he helped her establish.

But before his case is heard, Mr Ngugi is seeking a court order blocking any publication or press coverage of the matter. He says previous proceedings between him and Ms Passaris attracted intense and harmful intrusion into their privacy. The court will rule on that issue in October.

Best interest of the children

According to court papers, Mr Ngugi wants the court to determine if Ms Passaris should account for the money she received from him. The court is being asked to decide if Ms Passaris has managed the trust funds resources prudently and in the best interest of their two children.

And if it is found that she has misappropriated the funds, Mr Ngugi wants the court to direct her to restitute the money paid out to her. Ms Passaris and her sister, Ms Zaharoula Passaris, are the trustees of the fund, but Mr Ngugi retains the overriding power of the investment of the trust.

According to the papers, Mr Ngugi feels that he has placed substantial assets in the trust, but Ms Passaris has continued to seek more money from him.

He claims Ms Passaris wrote a letter to him on September 10, 2010, demanding Sh1,245,000 on the grounds that some Sh3 million deposited in the trust fund bank account in March 2010 had been depleted.

He claims that as a result of mismanagement of the funds, Ms Zaharoula Passaris has resigned as a trustee.

In response, Ms Passaris says that she is the owner of the property in Spring Valley valued at Sh4O million and brings in Sh250,000 a month in rent, contrary to Mr Ngugi’s allegation that it fetches Sh350,000.

According to her, Mr Ngugi has never made any lump sum payments for the welfare of the children, adding claims by Mr Ngugi that he has remitted over Sh50 million to the Trust is a blatant lie.

She denies that her sister Ms Zaharoula has resigned as a trustee and that her sister, whom Ms Passaris describes as being short of money, was financially induced by Mr Ngugi into signing a letter of resignation.

Ms Passaris says she learnt from her father that Zaharoula signed the letter on August 2, 2010 at the Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi. She had been staying at the hotel and incurred a bill of Sh14,874, which Mr Ngugi settled using his Mastercard.

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