Uhuru kin fights stepmother in row over millions of shares


Uhuru kin fights stepmother in row over millions of shares

Margaret Gecaga
Margaret Gecaga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s brother in-law Udi Gecaga has brought to court a fresh suit against his stepmother over the control of millions of shillings linked to the transfer of shares in Gateway Insurance.

In a case filed under certificate of urgency, Mr Gecaga, a former chairman of Lonhro East Africa and the Standard, wants the court to allow him access Sh57.6 million held in a joint account at KCB Group.

He is accusing his stepmother, Margaret Gacigi Gecaga, of refusing to approve the release of the money after the Court of Appeal ruled that the 3.2 million shares belonging to his father, Bethuel Gecaga, were not part of the matrimonial property.

According to the judges, Margaret had no direct claim to the shares, which were transferred in 2012 to a firm known as Quinvest Limited, where Udi has an interest, triggering the latest court suit.

The money had been placed in a joint account pending conclusion of the suit.


Margaret had termed the transfer of the Gateway shares fraudulent and illegal, arguing she was entitled to the stake in the insurance firm as the spouse of Bethuel.

She lost the case both at the High Court and on appeal, prompting Udi to seek the Sh57.6 million plus interest.

“The plaintiff has in defiance of the terms of the consent order refused to agree to the release of the funds,” Udi said in a March 16 court petition.

“It is in the interest of justice that an order be made for release of the funds to the 2nd [Udi] and 3rd [Quinvest Limited] defendants.”

Justice Mary Kasango is expected to hear the dispute from June 4.

Besides the fight over the Gateway stake, more legal battles loom over Bethuel’s vast estate, including land, real estate, farms and interests in various blue-chip corporations.

It will offer a rare peek into the wealth of Bethuel, who in his prime managed and served on the boards of some of Kenya’s biggest companies, including Kenya Airways, BAT, and Nation Media Group, and chaired the University of Nairobi Council.

The suit also underlines bitter property and inheritance wars among prominent families that served under the presidency of Jomo Kenyatta, including the Koinanges and Kanyotus.

Udi married President Uhuru Kenyatta’s elder sister, Jeni Wambui.

His son Jomo works at State House as the President’s long-serving personal assistant while her daughter, Nana, serves as chief executive of the iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre, a State corporation.

The Gecagas’ property battle was triggered by a 2007 decision to transfer Bethuel’s property to Quinvest, and the appointment of Udi to shepherd the firm.

The assets’ transfer was linked to Bethuel’s estate planning, but Margaret termed it a fraud and an effort to exclude her from the multibillion shilling property.

She argued that her husband did not permit the property transfers because he was suffering memory loss from years of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Margaret filed the suit on behalf of her husband, arguing he could not make rational judgment or join the suit as a party.

Bethuel married Margaret in August 2007, having lived as a widower since 1979 when his first wife, former nominated MP Jemima Gecaga, died.

At the time of the marriage, Bethuel was 82 years old, while Margaret, who told the court she had been his live-in partner for many years before ratification of the relationship, was 69.

In the Gateway suit, the judges based their decisions on whether Margaret had the legal capacity to sue on behalf of Bethuel, and if she had a right to the property given the Gateway stake was owned by Bethuel before Margaret came into the marriage

In his decision, High Court judge Fred Ochieng noted that Margaret did not provide proof including a court order appointing her manager of the husband’s estate in line with the Mental Health Act.

The courts also heard that Bethuel had the capacity to deal with his property given he married Margaret five months before the share transfer.

The judges ruled that shares held by a husband before a marriage cannot form part of matrimonial property.

“We find no fault in the manner the learnt Judge exercised his discretion, he came to the correct conclusion that the appellant lacked legal capacity to file suit on behalf of Dr. G (Bethuel) and that she had failed to demonstrate any independent interest or right over the shares,” the Court of Appeal judges ruled in February 7.

Udi has also sought to his stepmother Margaret Gacigi Gecaga from the palatial Muthaiga residence she shared with his father for nearly 10 years till his death in 2016.

He is also demanding rent of over Sh9 million accrued from the time his father died in December 2016.

Sanlam Kenya acquired a 51 per cent stake in Gateway Insurance in March 2015 for Sh561 million and renamed the firm Sanlam General and grown its ownership to 75.12 percent.

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