The bitter fight for the proceeds of a Ksh.3 billion land sale to National Cooperative Housing Union Limited (NACHU) has unleashed a scramble for a piece of the pie by dozens of relatives of a deceased police commissioner, banks and foreign companies.
The parties who had dragged each other to court over allegations of fraud have consented to give an out-of-court settlement a chance in the complex case pitting heirs of Bernard Njinu Kiarie, a powerful Moi-era police chief, against each other.
According to court filings, NACHU is yet to conclude purchase of the 428 acres although the cooperative and marketing firm Finsco are already selling the land to unsuspecting buyers.
A sale agreement signed on 30th March 2021 has since been varied to increase the purchase price to Ksh.7.5M per acre.
Going by a consent filed in the Environment and Land Court at Thika, it will take another seven months to conclude the transaction. This essentially means Riverline Ridges buyers will have to wait well into next year to legally own their investment.
There are also questions on how exactly NACHU plans to raise the Ksh.3.2B purchase price judging by its funding capabilities and known asset portfolio.
But the doubts have not stopped the parties from divvying up the proceeds, at least on paper going by the settlement filed in court that indicates six shareholders of New Pilion Estates Limited will receive Ksh.535M.
The estate of Peter Gicheru, in the name of Karen Wambui and Susan Wairimu, will receive Ksh. 267M. Susan will then have to share her portion with nine other beneficiaries meaning each person is entitled to Ksh.26.75M.
The proceeds from the sale, if completed, will also have to satisfy the debtors of New Pilion, which is under charge by Co-operative Bank of Kenya Limited. New Pilion further owes Tropical Farm Management Limited, a Switzerland-based agricultural company that used to manage its coffee, Ksh.174.5M.
NACHU and Finsco Africa have profiled Riverline Ridges as a “mega multi-billion” project and spent lavishly on market hype events.
But they have been forced to back down on a marketing blitz declaring Riverline’s titles as “freehold” and “available.” They now admit that titles will be leasehold. Similarly, NACHU’s website no longer refers to Riverline as having “ready title.”