When managers of Lake Bogoria Spa Resort asked the owner, former President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, to pump more money into the firm, it was almost unfathomable that he could not immediately get the required amount.
Not many Kenyans would believe that Mr Moi would have at any point had liquidity struggles, having made billions of shillings during his 24-year reign. In fact, when Mr Moi died in February, many Kenyans expected that his children would soon afterwards start a monumental scramble for assets. That may not happen. There is not much left to fight over, as Mr Moi shared out his assets when he was still alive.
Besides a few pieces of land, very few assets were still under the former President’s name and control, as he had already shared out his properties much earlier.
As the family lawyers prepare to file for administration in court, which will kick-start the process of making his succession official, the Nation has learnt that Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is the biggest beneficiary of the family patriarch’s vast estate estimated to be worth billions. Gideon appeared to be the retired President’s favourite child and was the automatic choice to carry on his father’s legacy, which included control over the family’s most treasured assets.
Among the assets Mr Moi passed on to Gideon are the Siginon Group, the Standard Group, Moi High School Kabarak, Moi Educational Centre, Sacho High School and Kiptagich Tea Estates.
The former President had eight children – Jennifer, Jonathan, John Mark, Raymond, Philip, Doris, June and Gideon. Jonathan died in April last year.
In his autobiography, The Making of an African Statesman, Mr Moi said his family was largely a disappointment. Having divorced his wife Lena, the automatic translation was that Mr Moi’s children did not bring much joy to the family.
While the Moi family has not yet filed an administration application in court, which would enable succession to be legally completed, our sources revealed that Philip has started asking questions about their father’s estate that could set him on the warpath with Gideon.
Raymond has since Mr Moi’s demise taken up the role of family spokesman, but is said to be comfortable with their father’s decision to pass the family torch to Gideon.
Family lawyers are still tracing documents that would be crucial in verifying ownership of assets still under the former President’s name, an endeavor that could prove difficult.
The former President created quite a huge business empire between 1978 and 2002. Some of his companies’ ownership structures are a confusing loop between each other, coupled with trusts and little-known individuals holding shares on his behalf.
For instance, Mr Moi used Sovereign Group Holdings to own assets such as a stake in the Hotel Intercontinental. Sovereign Group Limited is owned by Ruby Trust Limited (99.99 per cent) and a foreign firm, Hallmark Holdings International (0.1 per cent). Ruby Trust Limited is owned by an individual identified as Evans Kiplimo Lagat (50 per cent) and Sovereign Group Limited (50 per cent).
Similarly, Mr Moi owned a stake in Transnational Bank through Sovereign Trust Limited, which is owned by Sovereign Group Limited (99.99 per cent) and Ruby Trust Limited (0.1 per cent).
This means there is an ownership loop between Sovereign Group Limited, Sovereign Trust Limited and Ruby Trust Limited that makes it difficult to know the actual individuals behind the three firms.
It also means Mr Lagat holds the key to the three firms, being the only individual named as a shareholder in the loop. The secrecy in the inheritance process makes it difficult to know the exact value of assets he received, but they are believed to be the most lucrative in the Moi business empire.
Among the assets Philip could have inherited from his father is the Lake Bogoria Spa Resort, although the ownership is yet to be officially changed.
Records at the Registrar of Companies indicate that Philip owns 169,270 shares in the hotel. Former President Moi is still listed as the majority stakeholder with 184,998 shares. Gideon has just two shares, while Raymond is a director but has no shares.
Among the last few assets that Mr Moi had left was Transnational Bank, which was last month acquired by Nigeria’s Access Bank for Sh1.4 billion. Our sources have revealed that proceeds of the Transnational Bank sale will be divided equally among Mr Moi’s children. While in power, Mr. Moi incorporated companies alongside close allies like his then personal assistant Joshua Kulei and former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott. This caused a rift after he left power, as it was difficult for them to agree on who owned what. To date, Mr Kulei and Mr Biwott are, for instance, still registered as directors or shareholders in several Moi family businesses. Mr Kulei fell out with Moi after the latter left office.