Suraya and Gatabaki: Real estate couple Peter Muraya and Susan Muraya, popularly known as Suraya and the Gatabaki couple (Samuel and Nancy Gatabaki), have been fighting for quite some time now over the multi-billion real estate known as Fourways.
The two couples’ long standing dispute set off following a 2007 failed partnership venture. According to a report that appeared in the Daily Nation recently, Suraya had approached Gatabakis who owned 105 acres along Kiambu Road with a business proposal. The two couples agreed to start a joint venture which was named Muga Developers Limited. They agreed that with the venture, they would build what is today known as Fourways Junction Estate.
Over thirteen years later, the Gatabakis accused Suraya of executing a plan to defraud them of all their land. The Gatabakis alleged in court documents that Suraya was executing this plan using forgeries and corrupt officials in the government. “According to the Gatabakis, some of the discoveries include a change to the original joint venture agreement to increase the Murayas’ shareholding in Muga Developers Ltd to 67 per cent while reducing the Gatabakis’ to 33 per cent,” said the report in the Daily Nation.
In addition, the Gatabakis said that Suraya lied that they had the financial ability to set up the estate when they didn’t. Instead, what they wanted was to access title deeds to the 105 acres for use as security against loans, say the Gatabakis. According to the Daily Nation report, these 105 acres were to be hived off from the Gatabakis 200 acres of land along Kiambu Road under the title L.R. No. 5980.
“The joint venture agreement was structured on a 50:50 basis, the Gatabakis having yielded 105 acres of their land and the Murayas undertaking to inject monetary capital of equal value towards construction of the housing development on the entire 105 acres,” the Gatabakis said in court documents.
The report in the DN said that Suraya had refuted the fraud claims and accused Gatabakis of lying about the actual amount of land they had. Suraya says that the Gatabakis owned only 47 acres of land. “In the year 2007, Dr Samuel Mundati Gatabaki and his wife Mrs Nancy Wanja Gatabaki informed me that they owned the 200 acres of land. I was doubtful because they were operating in a kiosk selling chapatis to students of the school located in their original home as their main source of livelihood,” said Peter Muraya.
The Gatabakis also said that instead of building on the 105 acres, Suraya acquired approvals from the Nairobi Central Registry to build on the whole 200 acres. “A surveyor by the name of B.M. Okumu, whose name is shown on the Muraya documents as the person who lodged them, has denied that he ever did so. Some of the plans are also shown to have originated from the Department of Survey but were never registered in the Ministry of Lands,” the Gatabakis said in court documents.
“The Memorandum and Articles of Association of Muga Developers Ltd have got the signatures of both Mr and Mrs Muraya patently forged both on the space for the Memorandum and on the space provided for the Articles of Association, to fraudulently crystallise the forgeries on the joint venture agreement. The incorporation of the said company was undertaken by the Murayas’ advocates, acting on (the Murayas’) exclusive instructions. The title and heading of the forged joint venture agreement consists of LR No. 4508 (never owned by the plaintiffs) and LR No. 5980/1, 5980/3 & 5980/4 (being fake subdivisions of the plaintiffs’ L.R. No. 5980).”
The shocking report further added that Suraya took two multi million loans using the allegedly forged signatures of the Gatabakis.
“First, they got a letter of credit from I&M bank for Sh. 600 million — without Nancy Gatabaki’s signature though she is a signatory of the joint venture, and with the forged signature of Dr Gatabaki. Then they borrowed Sh. 1.5 billion from Equity Bank using the forged signatures of both the Gatabakis,” said the report. “Gatabakis add that the parcels of land captured in the forged papers go beyond 300 acres. They also say they do not know the advocate before whom the documents were executed, who goes by the name Vishnu Sharma. The change-of-user application from agricultural to residential was done under the cover of Pleng (K) is alien to them.”
Alarmingly, this is the latest court drama pitting Suraya and Gatabaki. Suraya and Gatabaki have been having dramatic court cases, financial awards and court appeals for some years now.