Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi is stressed over an impending arrest over charges of grabbing 3 acres of land belonging to a private company in Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
It is alleged that on June 15, 2020, Mwangi used the police to storm the contested land, kicked out the guards and installed his own.
Documents filed before the lands court show that Mr Mwangi and Mount Pleasant Director Anverali Amershi are both laying claim to the property.
Details of this contested property indicate that as early as on July 21, 2006,Mount Pleasant Ltd bought property registered under Land Reference No 214/20/2 from former finance minister Arthur Magugu and his wife Margaret Wairimu at Ksh130 million.
Mwangi and his fellow respondent, Jane Wangui Mundia, claim they allegedly bought the land at Ksh306 million in 2013.
In 2013, another businessman, John Birech filed an encroachment complaint that the company had encroached on LR No 214/20/2/1 and LR No 214/20/2/2. He was accused of trying to grab the land and Birech subsequently charged with forgery but the court acquitted him on July 5, 2019.
Birech had been sued by Mount Pleasant, and he admitted that he had no interests in the land.
In 2015, a land search showed that the data on the land ownership could not be found, hence Mount Pleasant was forced to file a missing file complaint. In 2016, Mount Pleasant was issued with a certificate confirming ownership of the land.
It is claimed that the land register was tampered with to clear evidence to clear details of successive ownership.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji, and the Director of Criminal Investigations, George Kinoti, are considering arresting or charging Mwangi.
However, in a quick move, Mwangi has secured a court order blocking his possible investigation or arrest over this saga.
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi granted Mr Mwangi a temporary order stopping any arrest or questioning and transferred the constitutional petition to the land court.
“Pending mention on 28/07/22 before the ELC (Environment and Lands Court) to which this matter is now transferred, a conservatory order is issued staying or suspending investigations into, any arrest and prosecution by the respondents in relation to the parcel of land namely, L.R. No.214/382 (formerly L.R Nos 214/20/1/2 and 214/214/20/1/1,” the judge directed.
Mr Mwangi and Ms Mundia are listed as petitioners in court documents, with Mr Haji and Mr Kinoti as respondents.
The court order does not reveal details linked to Mr Mwangi’s possible prosecution, but it makes reference to a separate land suit involving the Muthaiga property.
In the suit, Mr Karmali moved to court in 2020 seeking eviction of Mr Mwangi from the land terming him a trespasser.
Investigations over the property would leave a blot on Mr Mwangi’s eminent career.
The probe would have appeared in Mr Mwangi’s regulatory filing on the suitability of bank directors and executives, which is done annually when lenders are renewing the permits with the CBK
“Have you, or has any entity with which you are, or have been associated as a director, shareholder or manager, been the subject of an investigation, in any country, by a government department or agency, professional association or other regulatory body? If so, give particulars,” says note 5.4 of the director’s fit and proper form.
Mr Mwangi belongs to a small club of chief executives of Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firms who have served for more than 15 years.
He has served the bank for 32 years, including 18 years as CEO.