KCB now sells off Devani's assets in Sh2bn Triton row [Business Daily (Kenya)]
(Business Daily (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) KCB has sold off all the assets of fugitive businessman Yagnesh Devani that were used to secure a Sh2.1 billion loan, the lender has revealed to the High Court. Mr Devani was a director of oil marketing company Triton, which had borrowed the money to finance importation of petroleum products.
The firm was placed under receivership in 2008 after it was established that Triton had withdrawn its stock of fuel from the Kenya Pipeline Company storage tanks without informing its financiers – who included KCB and PTA banks – after which Mr Devani fled the country leaving behind a Sh7.6 billion scam.
READ: Triton case to proceed in absence of fugitive tycoon
"We have sold everything, on our part. There is nothing remaining," KCB lawyer Paul Ogunde told Justice Eric Ogola on Thursday.
Mr Ogunde was responding to an application by Triton, which had sought an injunction against the sale of assets by KCB on the grounds that the loan was borrowed at a personal level by Mr Devani. "You are being asked to give orders in vain," the KCB lawyer told Justice Ogola.
Triton had moved to court in December seeking to block KCB and PTA banks from auctioning its assets.
READ: KCB ordered to reveal Triton cash recovery
When the case came up for hearing on Thursday, Triton argued that it had evidence that the lender was in a rush to complete the sale and asked for an order restraining the auction, arguing that its case would be rendered irrelevant.
Mr Ogunde argued that since KCB had transferred all the assets to third parties, the restraining orders could not be issued unless the buyers are enjoined as interested parties. Triton has distanced itself from an agreement in 2009 in which its assets were pledged as security for the loan taken by Mr Devani, a former director of the oil trading company.
The fugitive businessman was arrested in London in 2011 and he has been fighting to stop his extradition to Kenya to face charges related to the scam.
READ: Tobiko wants debate on extradition Bill stopped
Triton had claimed that KCB and PTA banks are seeking to sell 15 petrol stations and six undeveloped plots owned by the oil firm. The company claims that the deeds securing its assets were signed by Mr Devani, Sunil Somaia and Mahendra Pathak without seeking approval from its directors, making the agreement null and void.
Triton argues that it is a limited liability company and, therefore, cannot be forced to shoulder the debt incurred by their individual directors without seeking the board's approval. The firm further claims that at the time of the signing of the deed, Mr Pathak was not their director while Mr Somaia had resigned.
Triton director George Atetwe claims that he learnt of the deed of settlement after Mr Devani and Mr Pathak had fled the country. He accused the banks of failing to enquire if indeed Devani, Somaia and Pathak had the authority to enter into an agreement on behalf of Triton before signing the deal.
Mr Devani has been fighting attempts to extradite him from the UK. He was charged in absentia for stealing Sh955,334,094 from KCB, and 26,216.6 tonnes of oil at the Kipevu storage facility in Mombasa valued at Sh1,532,272,140. The criminal case against him was later withdrawn under Section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This means the same charges can be brought against him again.
The KCB lawyer did not reveal how many properties have been sold or the total money that the bank has received from their sale.
But the lender is expected to reveal the amount in compliance with a court order issued in a separate case in which it is seeking compensation from the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) for the loss incurred after Triton's default.
Justice Jacqueline Kamau last month ruled that it was in the interest of justice if KPC is allowed to get information on the money recovered by KCB, so as to allow it prepare its response for a Sh2.1 billion compensation suit filed against it by the bank
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