Michuki last-born demands her share of parents’ estate

Sunday May 19 2019

 John Michuki

The late John Michuki. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DOMINIC WABALA
By DOMINIC WABALA
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The last born daughter of former Cabinet minister John Michuki has filed a fresh case seeking to revoke a document allowing her two siblings to manage their parents’ multibillion-shilling estate.

The estate of the minister is to be shared among his six children — Anne Wanjiru Mutahi, Fredrick Chege, Francis Murai, Sheila Murugi, Martin Michuki and Yvonne Wanja.

HOODWINKED

Since the minister and his wife died in 2012, wrangles have rocked the family.

Wanja wants the court to revoke a grant probate of her father and mother Josephine Watiri Michuki that was awarded to Wanjiru and Chege.

The chartered financial analyst says her siblings have not disclosed their mother’s June 7, 2012 last wish which makes full disclosure of the assets.

She adds that her elder siblings did not annex copies of titles, share certificates, details of directors and vehicle ownership on the document.

Wanja says they have concealed information and mismanaged the estate.

“The respondents have willingly failed to diligently administer the estate. They have hoodwinked the beneficiaries that they wish the estate to be distributed. All businesses under the estate have performed worse, year after year and  debts have increased,” Wanja says.

“The liabilities of Nairobi Golf Hotels have mushroomed to Sh625 million.”

The Michuki last born also accuses her siblings of borrowing money from the estate for personal use while excluding her from the affairs of the property.

In her amended supporting affidavit, Wanja says Wanjiru has denied her access to the family’s probate lawyer Njoroge Regeru and Company Advocates.

“The first respondent conspired to frustrate my mother’s wish to have her meet her lawyer Raphael Ngethe in August 2012 to execute her wishes into a new will despite numerous requests,” Wanja says.

NEGLETING

She adds that Murugi forced her dying mother to sign some unknown documents.

Wanja accuses Chege and Wanjiru of neglecting their mother by booking themselves into a hospital in India for four days as their mother lay on her death bed “even though they were not sick”.

She says a week after her mother’s burial, her sister presented two testaments authored by their mother to the other Michuki children.

One of the testaments was hand written and dated June 7, 2012. The other was June 24, 2009 will  in which Wanja was named as co-executioner.

In the handwritten and signed last wishes, four tentative trustees were listed, Wanja says.

The Michuki last born says her mother laid out the basis for her estate settlement and listed Mr Nicholas Ng’ang’a (current Safaricom chairman), Martin Michuki, Chege and Wanja as the tentative trustees.

However, despite Josephine’s request to Wanjiru to have her wishes documented by her lawyer and brought to her for signing, it never happened, Wanja says.

“Shortly after my mother’s death, the respondent retrieved the original copy of the last wishes from my mother’s file at Ndung’u, Njoroge and Kwach Advocates. She later forwarded to me a copy of the said last wishes which differed with what she had shown my siblings,” Wanja says.

According to Wanja, the entire portfolio of the estate was built by her parents, with her mother being in charge of the business side while her father was fully engaged as a politician and government minister.

C--EXECUTOR

Court papers say when Josephine realised that her days were coming to an end and that her husband had left her the authority to determine the future of the estate, she began the probate process in which she had been named co-executor alongside politician Kenneth Matiba who at the time was not of sound health. Matiba died last year.

Following the minister’s burial, his wife called a meeting with her children to address issues affecting the vast estate.

Among the issues discussed was changing bank accounts to enhance governance, Wanja says.

She adds that Wanjiru started moving their mother’s probate matter from Ndung’u, Njoroge Kwach Advocates to another firm without disclosing the full contents of the file.

According to the last born, Wanjiru should not be allowed to execute their mother’s estate or be the administrator of their father’s property.

Wanja also accuses her sister of failing to follow the due process by applying for confirmation of grant of probate almost six years after filing the application “without good reason”.

According to court documents, as at October 5, 2018, the probate grant files lodged in March 2013 had been closed and Wanja later filed the confirmation of grant only after the last born had petitioned the court over the shortcoming through her application on November 9, 2018.

Court documents show that all the businesses under the estate have consistently performed worse year after year and debts increased.

“True to my mother’s prediction, the respondent, in her capacity as an administrator, has continuously presided over the waste of the estate. She has dominated Chege, her co-administrator, who hardly executes his duties. The respondent has failed to produce a full and accurate inventory of the assets and liabilities of the estate and an account of the dealings despite numerous requests,” Wanja says.

BENEFICIARIES

She adds in her papers that Mika Holdings Ltd and Windsor Park 1 Ltd were incorporated for the purpose of selling Windsor Park phase 1 houses estimated to be valued at Sh1.6 billion.

In their replying affidavit, Wanjiru and Chege — who are represented by Njoroge Regeru and Company Advocates — say that they have filed the summons of confirmation dated January 31, 2019 and that the court directed the assets to be distributed.

“We can only distribute to the applicant her share of the estate upon confirmation of the grant. In addition and as demonstrated in the February 11, 2019 affidavit, we already made available to the beneficiaries part of the money held in the deceased’s bank accounts,” the two say.

“The balances have been shared and openly discussed with the beneficiaries. The said funds are only a fraction of the deceased’s assets as the majority of assets are in form of stocks in companies and parcels of land.”

The pair adds that it has not excluded any of the beneficiaries from discussions or failed to supply information relating to the estate.

The two insist that it is not possible for the siblings to agree on the future of the estate since Wanja has applied to have her shares and they are pursuing division and distribution of the assets to all the beneficiaries equally as provided in the deceased’s will.

AFFIDAVITS

“It is apparent that the applicant is not interested in the confirmation of grant but rather in picking fights. The content of the supporting affidavits is malicious and untrue. The same is intended to tarnish the respondents’ reputation. The first respondent was not aware of our mother’s last instructions to her lawyer,” Wanjiru and Chege  say in their replying affidavit.

According to court documents, Michuki owned 1,536 shares at Kenya Airways, 10,400 at Ndarugu Plantations, 502 at Silver Homes Ltd, pme at Leading Edge Food and Entertainment company Ltd, 502 at Coots Holdings, 502 at Snipe Investments, 20 at Kangema Farmlands Ltd, 100 at Agricultural and Industrial Holdings, 56,900 at Mountain Lodge, one at Mika Estate, one at Nairobi Golf Hotels Kenya Ltd, 12,500 at New Kenshoes Company Ltd, 2,000 at Fairview Investments, one at Highland Tea Company and two accounts at Standard Chartered Bank, Koinange Street branch.

The deceased is reported to have transferred the ownership of Kangema petrol station to other parties before his death.

Court documents also show that the former Interior minister wholly owned or owned shares in Duke Properties, Windsor Investments Ltd, Gateway Insurance Company Ltd, Heri Ltd, Kanyenyaini Tea Factory among many others.