The family of former spymaster James Kanyotu and Marriott International Company, associated with businessman Kamlesh Pattni, are fighting over ownership of 500 acres in Thika town.
In their defence court documents, the family led by Willy Kihara who is one of the sons of the late Kanyotu, has denied defrauding Marriott International of a parcel of land worth Sh750 million claiming that they are one of the beneficiaries of the estate of the late Kanyotu.
Kanyotu headed the Directorate of Security Intelligence for 27 years, from 1965 until his retirement in 1991.
The lawyer states in his witness statement that the property in question belongs to Kangaita Coffee Estate Limited, a company where Kanyotu (deceased) was the majority shareholder, owning 99 per cent of the said company's shares.
Marriott International, through its director Abdul Hassan, has sued the late Kanyotu’s wives Margaret Murigu, Mary Wanjiuku and son Kihara together with their company Kangata coffee estates limited for allegedly conspiring to reclaim the same land it bought from Trendsetter International Ltd at the cost of Sh750 million.
In court documents filed at Milimani Environment and Land Court, Marriot Company says that Margaret and Mary were at all material times together with one Jane Gathoni Muraya Kanyotu (who is not part of this suit) the administrators of the Estate of the Late James Kanyotu.
While defending themselves, the family of the late Kanyotu through Kihara, reveals that Marriot International Ltd and Trendsetters Investments Ltd are one and the same entity, owned and controlled by businessman Pattni, who was implicated in the 1990s Goldenberg scandal but was acquitted in 2013.
According to Kihara, copies of CR12 from the Registrar of Companies showed that the two companies share the same physical and postal address, which he says belong to Pattni.
In the dispute, Marriot claims ownership of the land and argues that it was bought in 2012 from Trendsetters Investments Ltd.
But Kihara has disputed the sale, saying that the land, measuring approximately 205 hectares (about 506 acres) is subject to a succession case, which is pending before the High Court.
Marriot is seeking to block the Kanyotu family from reclaiming the land. It named Margaret Nyakinyua Murigu, Mary Wanjiku Kanyotu, Kihara and Kangaita Coffee Estate as respondents in the case.
Kihara adds that sometime in the year 2008 after the death of James Kanyotu, a succession cause was filed at the High Court Nairobi whereby the 4th Defendant( Kangaita Coffee Estate Limited) was listed as one of the companies owned by the deceased and the suit property was also listed as one of his properties.
"On September 28, 2009, Justice G Dulu sitting at the High Court Nairobi in the succession cause issued orders prohibiting anyone from dealing with all the properties listed as the estate of James Kanyotu (deceased) and this also included all the companies and shares where the deceased was the majority shareholder", he states in court documents.
He said the order was registered as a restriction on most of the estate's properties including the certificate of lease of the suit property.
Thereafter on November 8, 2013, the same succession court, now Justice L. Kimaru issued a ruling and orders preserving all the shares of the companies where the deceased James Kanyotu was a majority shareholder and he also reversed/cancelled illegal changes of shares and directorships that had been done to companies where James Kanyotu was a majority shareholder. These companies included the 4th Defendant.
Kihara says sometime in the year 2013 a company by the name Trendsetters Investments Limited deviously moved to the High Court Commercial and Admiralty division, it sued the Attorney General and the Registrar of Lands and sought orders to set aside the orders that had been issued by the succession court on September 28, 2009, and the said company surprisingly got orders to the set aside the orders preserving the suit property herein;
He urged the court to note that neither the fourth Defendant nor any of the Administrators of the Estate of James Kanyotu were a party to the matter before the High Court