After Kenya Civil Aviation Authority declared publicly that it owns the plot occupied by Deputy President William Ruto’s Weston Hotel,Ruto through his lawyer denied that he had acquired the land irregularly, saying no one had come forward to claim the property since it was acquired.
However after a series of court battles and evidence provided, the National Land Commission has established that Deputy President William Ruto’s Weston Hotel is built on public land but will not order it to be demolished.
In a decision causing a storm between the NLC and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, the commission wants Ruto compelled to pay for the 0.773ha plot opposite Wilson Airport at the current market rate. Last year it was valued at Sh300 million.
Mr Ruto’s lawyer, Ahmednasir Abdullahi told the NLC panel that Ruto acquired the land in 2007 for Sh10 million from its registered owners, Priority Management Ltd and Monene Investments Limited.
KCAA insists the four-star hotel should be torn down because it is compromising safety.The authority says buildings near the airport should not be higher than two storeys but the Weston has five floors.
Ruto also failed to secure necessary approvals from KCAA as It had wanted to build its headquarters there.
KCAA Corporation secretary Cyril Wayong’o confirmed to the Star that NLC had recommended that it be compensated.He protested against the NLC decision, saying it will entrench impunity and revealed that the parastatal’s board of management will sit and consider an appeal.
“It will mean going forward that somebody can just grab public land and allege that he or she is an innocent purchaser, and thereafter decide to compensate, which is wrong,” he said.
The NLC conclusion that the parcel is public land is likely to put Ruto on the spot following years of denial and statements that he acquired the property legally.
The hotel, according to a valuation report by Zenith (Management) Valuers Ltd, was valued at Sh300 million in May this year and had been charged to a bank for Sh1.2 billion.
On December 7, 2011, Ruto charged the property for Sh100 million, which was discharged on October 8, 2014. Ruto and Rachel signed the charge documents on December 8, 2011 as directors of Weston.
Ruto then charged the property to Kenya Commercial Bank for a Sh350 million and $1.5 million (about Sh150 million) facility on June 30, 2014. This charge was signed by Rachael and Charlene.
On July 8, 2015, Weston took a further charge of Sh700 million which was signed by Rachael and Charlene before lawyer Nancy W. Gitau.
This took the total charge at KCB to Sh1.2 billion. All the charges were prepared by the law firm of Hamilton, Harris and Mathews (HH&M).
“KCB subsequently extended additional credit facilities to our client and as a result instructed HH&M to prepare further charge over the property, which was stamped and registered,” said Abdullahi.