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German wants property row with children resolved before he dies

Tuesday December 3 2019

A view of the Mombasa Law Courts.

A view of the Mombasa Law Courts. High Court Judge Patrick Otieno is handling the property dispute betweem German investor Wilfred Gurnther and his children Ronny Patric Herbert and Jeanie Notalie Boehlig. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRIAN OCHARO
By BRIAN OCHARO
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A German investor has pleaded with a court to expedite hearing of a Sh2 billion property row with his two children as his health is deteriorating.

Mr Wilfred Gurnther is embroiled in a row with his two children, Ronny Patric Herbert and Jeanie Notalie Boehlig, over ownership of Papillion Garden Bar Villa.

The property is located in Bamburi along Mombasa-Malindi Road.

In court on Tuesday, the investor said, “I want this matter out of the court before I die. I have not been feeling well for a while now."

DOCUMENTS

Mombasa High Court Judge Patrick Otieno heard that Mr Gurnther, who jetted into the country in November, has been undergoing treatment in Germany.

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His advocate Robinson Malombo said the investor underwent surgery at a German hospital.

Justice Otieno reassured the investor and asked him to get all his documents in order to the case is expedited.

“No, Mr Gurnther, you are not going to die soon. If you are ready with your documents I can give you a near hearing date," he said.

THE ROW

The dispute concerns transfer of the investor's shares to his children and his subsequent removal from directorship of Hanos (K) Ltd, the company that owns and operates the villa.

Mr Gurnther has asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe circumstances that led to this.

He says he neither transferred his shared nor signed documents to relinquish his position.

So far, several persons in Mombasa have recorded statements in relation to the alleged fraud, and the DCI said it was liaising with Interpol for the children to travel to Kenya and record statements.

The court heard that investors singled out two law firms and registrars suspected to have been involved in fraud that led to Mr Gurnther's removal from directorship and the transfer of his shares.

EVICTION

However, Mr Gurnther says he did not give consent for the changes and that they took place while he was away in his home country.

The complainant has sued his children over fraudulent transfer of the shares and forceful eviction from his apartment.

“I left the country in 1998 and only came back in 2009. I never signed any document transferring my shares to any other individual and I never resigned as a director of Hanos,” he says in the court documents.

He adds that due to the "forgery and fraud", he is no longer the company's director and stands sued as a tenant by the same company.

He also notes that Hanos obtained orders to claim his goods for non-payment of rent.

Mr Gurnther further told the court that his children curtailed his freedom within the facility so he needed relief from the court, which was granted pending determination of the matter.

DEFENCE

But Mr Gurnther’s children claimed that after selling his 99 shares to their mother on June 7, 1998  for Sh99,000, he transferred the rest to them and resigned, automatically ceasing to be a shareholder of the company.

Through their advocate Lawrence Obonyo, they added that Mr Gurnther divorced their mother, Gunhild Gerlinde Oser , in 1997 and that she died on January 20,2013.

“The defendants state that the complainant transferred his remaining one share in the company to his son (Herbert) and signed the company resolution on the same day confirming the same when he was still in Germany,” Mr Obonyo said in an affidavit.

He added that after selling his shares, Mr Gurnther ceased laying to the company, and that the current arrangement is that he is a tenant who has more than Sh400,000 in rent arrears.

Mr Obonyo urged the court to dismiss the case.

It will be mentioned on December 9.