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Billionaire charged with forcible detention of land near State House

Ashok Doshi, the famous industrialist and billionaire known for manufacturing the popular “Chuma ya Doshi,” has been charged with the forcible detention of a multi-billion parcel of land near State House Nairobi.

The 71-year-old steel maker was arraigned before Milimani chief magistrate Lucas Onyina after battling over the ownership of the 2.5-acre land valued at over Sh2 billion for 31 years with Jennifer Nthenya Wambua, the proprietor of Greenview Lodge Limited, the registered owner of the upmarket property.

Doshi’s company Magnum and prominent lawyer Harit Sheth were also accused in the charge sheet presented before Onyina by state prosecutor Riungu Gitonga.

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Doshi denied the four counts preferred against him by the director of public prosecutions (DPP) through Capitol Hill Police Station within Kilimani Police Division Nairobi County.

The charges included conspiracy to defraud the government, making a document without authority, forgery, and forcible detainer of another person’s property.

The longstanding land dispute between Doshi and businesswoman Jennifer Nthenya Wambua culminated in Doshi being charged with allegations of land fraud and defrauding the government of Sh1.2 million in 1992.

Doshi and his company Magnum Properties Ltd and lawyer Harit Sheth allegedly committed the offenses on diverse days between May 14 and September 2, 1992, by forging a land stamp duty receipt at Ardhi House Nairobi.

Nine years ago, this dispute took a new twist when the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had recommended that the businesswoman be prosecuted for defrauding Mr Doshi of the 2.5-acre piece of land situated on Processional Way, Nairobi.

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However, investigators reversed their decision in 2020 and recommended that Mr Doshi and his wife, Pratibha be charged with fraud. The couple’s attempt to stop the trial flopped after the High Court dismissed their petition.

During the hearing on Monday, Mr Doshi and Magnum Limited denied the charges of fraud and forgery before Onyina.

Their co-accused advocate Harit Sheth, failed to turn up in court for the plea-taking, and the magistrate issued a summons against him.

Doshi was indicted with conspiracy to defraud government, making a document without authority, forgery, and forcible detainer of another person’s property.

The court heard that the accused purported that the stamp duty receipt was genuine and valid, issued and signed by the Commissioner of Lands.

The charge sheet indicated that Mr Doshi “without colour of right” held possession of the land parcel owned by Greenview Lodge Ltd. He committed the alleged offence on September 5, 2020, at Processional Way Nairobi.

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It also indicated that the alleged possession was “in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace, against Greenview Lodge Ltd who was entitled by law to the possession of the said land.”

A defence lawyer Noel Okwach successfully applied for the release of Doshi and Magnum Properties Limited on bond.

Onyina freed Doshi and Magnum on a cash bail of Sh500,000 each. The case was fixed for pre-trial on May 2, 2023. The prosecution has listed six witnesses against the billionaire businessman.

The ownership of the prime land is a subject under litigation at the High Court in civil proceedings and before the National Lands Commission (NLC).

The Doshis’ claim that they are the registered owners of the land, having bought it from Greenview Lodge Ltd in 2018 at a consideration of Sh150 million.

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