, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – A lawyer representing four of the companies adversely mentioned over irregular acquisition of hundreds of acres of land in Lamu revealed on Thursday that the persons listed with the Registrar of Companies are not the real owners of those firms.
Julius Kemboy told the National Land Commission that the actual directors of Brick Investments, Dynamic Trading Company and Savannah Fresh Fruits Export were not registered with the government, even though they had acquired the firms from the people who had initially formed the companies.
Kemboy explained that it was common practice for such transfers to happen.
“What happens is that law firms or audit firms incorporate companies using their staff so that they can sell them if you need a company urgently other than going through the incorporation process,” he explained.
Savannah, he said, had undergone “subsequent changes” following the death of one of its original shareholders in 2004 and he could therefore not definitively state who the current directors are.
And when tasked by the Commission to reveal who had then contracted his services, he identified one Abduwahid Mohamed.
The companies, including Lamu and Tana Sugar Company — owned by Kibos sugar whom he also represented — had applied for their land grants while, “under formation.”
Their combined hundred thousand acres, Kemboy said, remained unused but argued that they were still within the, “reasonable time frame,” of their leases.
The length of the leases and the failure of the special conditions to set out time frames for the use of the land was also questioned by the Commission.
It had been recommended for instance that Brick get five years but it got 99 instead. It also received 40,000 instead of the recommended 30,000 acres.
The original time frame, Kemboy argued, would have been too short for a meaningful agricultural investment. He was however unable to demonstrate that his client was indeed the, “serious agricultural commercial investor,” he said he was by giving examples of previously successful agricultural ventures.
He also admitted that his client applied for land in Lamu under Brick Investments hoping to benefit from the port to be constructed there but, “speculation is a term that is used by couch commentators. But this is a serious investment. Nobody would pay 10 million shillings for nothing. This is a serious commercial enterprise,” he insisted, “off course, the Lamu Port, when it eventually takes off, will give this project an added impetus.”