By Prudence Minayo
The Fig Tree Hotel Limited (FTHL)was founded in 1981 by a group of five men who pooled their resources and built the iconic hotel in Ngara. The hotel attracted clients from far and wide with its delicacies and affordable accommodation.
The now derelict hotel had a total of 45 rooms sitting on one and half acres of land. The property, estimated at kes1 billion, has been closed since 2013 after a court order because of ownership wrangles.
The five founders-some have since passed on-of the Fig Tree Hotel Limited are:
- Patrick Mwangi Githinji
- Mwangi Gacau
- Benson Mwangi Kimang’a
- Mwangi Kariuki
- Fredrick John Njora
Currently, the majority shareholder in FTHL is Mr Stephen Maina Kimang’a.
Foreclosure and Rivalry
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The battle for control of the hotel ensued between the cousins throwing the once vibrant hotel into disarray.
In 2013, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was investigating how ownership of the hotel was altered without resolution of all shareholders.
The DCI wanted to know how 2,175 shares were created and given to one section of shareholders a year earlier. The probe began after the hotel’s management at the time filed a complaint. Three directors named Lucy Waithera, Julius Mwangi and John Irungu wrote to the register of companies and the CID complaining about complacency in replacing changes to shareholders’ stakes.
It was later reported that the battle heightened when Mr. Githinji (another heir to the hotel) raided the hotel in the company of police officers and evicted everybody in sight.
The three directors were accused of stealing Ksh48.8 million from the hotel. Ms. Waithera told the Milimani Chief magistrate that Stephen Maina Kimang’a, another son to one of the deceased co-founders, who is also a complainant in the theft case, was cajoling them to convert his late father’s earlier contribution to shares. Upon refusal, she and the other two directors were arrested and charged with criminal offenses at both the Kibera and Milimani courts.
Ms. Waithera said the alleged stolen money was what they used for renovation and other expenses. However, all documents are in the hotel which has been locked up since 2015.
Chief magistrate Francis Andayi
Milimani law courts chief magistrate appealed to the feuding children of the Fig Tree Hotel Limited shareholders to settle the protracted ownership wrangles out of court. He said this while touring the property.
“It will be sad to see what your parents fought hard to build, a multimillion-shilling property, go to waste as a result of sibling rivalry over ownership,” he said.