SK Macharia loses Sh155m land row bankruptcy suit

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Royal Media Services chairman S.K. Macharia has lost a three decade battle to stop a businessman from declaring him bankrupt over a Sh500,000 debt that has grown to Sh155.6 million.

Court of Appeal judges William Ouko, Asike Makhandia and Gatembu Kairu ruled that Mr Macharia and his wife challenged the earlier court ruling on the existence of the debt instead of the bankruptcy suit.

Mr Macharia and his wife challenged the debt in the bankruptcy proceedings initiated by businessman Livingston Waithaka through his company, Oceanfreight Transport, on failure to pay the debt.

The debt stems from a botched land deal that saw Mr Waithaka demand a refund of the Sh500,000 he had paid as deposit to the Macharias in the 1980s for a plot in Nairobi’s Industrial Area in a deal then worth Sh2 million.

The couple says the earlier High Court judgment was based on inaccurate information and that the judges had ignored the basis of the debt.

The row has gone through three High Court judges, including Martha Koome, Luka Kimaru and Kalpana Rawal.

In October 2001, then High Court Judge Rawal, who rose to become Deputy Chief Justice before retiring in 2016, issued judgment against the couple.

The judge directed the duo to pay a sum of Sh500,000 with interest at 19 percent per annum from December 6, 1986 until payment in full. The debt has since risen to Sh155.6 million based on the court ruling.

The two, however, went quiet until 2008 when they were served with bankruptcy notices.

They challenged the notices but the matter was dismissed by Justice Luka Kimaru on May 2008. The judge granted Mr Waithaka permission to commence bankruptcy proceedings.

The Macharias filed several unsuccessful applications. The couple acknowledged receiving the Sh500,000, but maintains Mr Waithaka owes them Sh1.5 million as balance for purchase of the plot, off Enterprise Road.

They claimed Mr Waithaka led to collapse of the land deal after he declined the plot despite paying the Sh500, 000 deposit.

The land was allocated to the Macharias by the State in 1982 and they were expected to pay Sh636, 970 for the property.

They later agreed to sell the property to Mr Waithaka, who declined the lands after its records indicated it was along Biashara Street in Nairobi’s city centre and not Industrial Area plot.

He demanded a refund of the Sh500, 000 prompting the ongoing court dispute.

The land was in 1994 allocated to Malaki and Somche traded on the failure to pay the Sh636,970 and later sold to Excelo Structures.