By Prudence Minayo
The late Shahid Pervez Butt was one of Kenya’s least known billionaires. He controlled a vast empire and was unafraid to take on his rivals when the need arose. The businessman rarely made headlines-if not for the occasional disputes of commercial nature or criminal charges in court. Leading up to his death on 11th July 2014, he was arrested for allegedly funding terrorism activities in the country and was released on a Sh100,000 bail pending investigation.
A glimpse into his vast empire was offered when his widow, Regine Butt, and her mother moved to court. They were seeking orders prohibiting the patriarch’s son Haroon Shahid and his mother Akhtar Shahid Butt from drawing monies from various accounts and selling, transferring, disposing of, leasing and dealing in several plots.
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According to the Daily Nation, Shahid’s wealth amounted to about Sh5 billion. He was the proprietor of Modern Coast Bus Limited, one of the most successful bus companies ferrying passengers between Kenya and other parts of East Africa. The Billionaire is said to have had 209 motor vehicles.
He owned Vantage Point Clearing and Forwarding and Vantage Point Transporters. These logistics companies also helped customers with the transportation of goods to and from the port of Mombasa.
He owned houses, plots and commercial properties in the coastal region through his companies-Bluebell properties and Premac Properties. He put his money in off-shore accounts. Apart from an account in Bermuda Island, he also had other savings and investment accounts including American Express Asset Management.
His son Haroon Butt from his first marriage to Akhtar Butt benefited largely from his father’s wealth. In most of the off-shore investments, he was listed as a co-owner. This and the fact that he managed a Standard Chartered account in Jersey.
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As mentioned earlier, Shahid Pervez faced opposition head-on. In the early 2000s, he was involved in a dispute with Kenya Ports Authority over a 4.2 acres he owned. The land was located in the Port Reitz area in Mombasa. KPA was buying land around Kipevu for the construction of a 2.8 km road.
Initially, the land belonged to Salim Abdalla who was still in negotiations with KPA who were willing to pay up to Sh39 million for the land. Rather than selling to KPA, he opted for Mr. Butt who in turn wanted to sell it at Sh250 million in 2012. Later, he raised the stakes to Sh915.3 million. KPA offered Sh62.5 million causing the deal to stall. He then moved to court to prevent a buyout. The court ruled in his favor and it is not documented whether the parties reached a later agreement.
Not only did he take on KPA but he was also known not to tolerate any deceit from his employees. A good example was when a truck driver from his company named Paul Ngoche was suspected of theft. He delivered wheat which was less by 1,820kg to MacNeal Millers.
He was charged and sentenced despite there not being enough evidence to even show in what way the theft was committed. One year later, however, he won an appeal after the court said:
“This was a case where the ingredients of theft by servant was not proved and more, the possibility of the bags being loaded in short weight was proved better than any other theory,” said the high court judge.
Mohamed Shahid Pervez Butt was shot dead on Friday, 11th July 2014-just 300m from Changamwe Police Station. The late tycoon was driving from Moi International Airport where he had gone to pick up his son Haroun Butt who had arrived from London. Thinking the station may have been under attack, officers fired several rounds as they tried to pursue the assailants who fled into the dead of the night. Haroun survived the shooting.
Witnesses said the gunmen surrounded the car before proceeding to gun down Shahid when he was close to the station.
Regine Butt moved to court seeking to benefit from the late tycoon’s wealth. According to her, she and her mother were unemployed and dependent on the late Mr. Butt. Her demands included: :
- Sh1.5 million as monthly upkeep
- Sh200,000 for car maintenance and fuel
- Sh1.05 yearly for the school fees of her children.