Family feud puts English Point Marina in jeopardy

English Point Marina

Tourists at the English Point Marina in Mombasa.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A vicious family fight has broken out at the English Point Marina over share allocation, piling on the hotel’s financial woes that compelled the Kenya Commercial Bank to place it under receivership earlier this month.

Mr Amyn Kanji, who claims to have built it with his own finances, has asked police to probe his brother Alnoor, sister-in-law Nafisa and Mr Nazir Jinnah for fraud. Mr Jinnah is the controversial businessman who was accused of impersonating an advocate.

While Amyn’s complaint with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) was filed three weeks before KCB placed the hotel under receivership, it has sparked an ownership battle that could complicate matters.

For now, the hotel is enjoying court orders that bar KCB from proceeding with the receivership spell until a case filed by English Point Marina that disputes the balance of a Sh4.8 billion loan issued by the lender is heard.

KCB argues that English Point Marina has defaulted on the loan but the hotel insists that aside from the receivership being premature and against legal procedures, there was a past banking error that saw the hotel irregularly overcharged by Sh893 million.

Amyn says the alleged shares fraud has reduced his stake from 30 per cent to 0.4 per cent. Official records at the Business Registration Service indicate that Amyn has three shares, while his wife Leila owns two.

Alnoor has 278 shares, while his wife Nafisa owns 277. Mr Jinnah has 198 shares under the new structure that was filed with the Business Registration in March. It was backed by minutes of a physical board meeting that was allegedly held at the hotel’s head office in Mombasa.

Amyn, however, claims the meeting minutes are a forgery as he was not in Kenya at the time. He lives in the UK. His wife was also outside the country.

The statement does not, however, state whether Amyn’s signature appears in the minutes filed with the Business Registration Service.

Amyn says he suspected fraud when the Business Daily published a story on the DCI probing English Point Marina for money laundering, which mentioned ownership records at the Business Registration Service.

“This prompted me to log into my BRS e-Citizen portal, where I made shocking discoveries on forgery of documents to fraudulently dilute the shareholding of my wife and I. Noting that neither my wife nor I were present in the country on March 1, and never participated in any meeting of the company, it is evident that the resolutions are fraudulent,” he offers.

Amyn argues that Pearl Beach Hotels Limited, which owns English Point Marina, was incorporated on October 16, 1991 by Prem Dutt Prinja.

The Mombasa-based Prinja family – Amala, Aparna, Mallika and Prashant – joined the company, whose main asset was a four-acre piece of land that would later host English Point Marina.

In the DCI statement, Amy says he and Leila bought Pearl Beach Hotels Limited and its assets from the Prinja family for £1 million (Sh144 million).

The couple further spent £900,000 (Sh129 million) in developing the hotel. This included hiring UK-based consultants who flew in and out of Kenya to monitor construction progress. Amyn holds that in 2007, he co-opted Alnoor and allocated him 50 per cent of the company.

Alnoor chose to split the shares with his wife, as Amyn did the same thing. This meant that Amyn and Alnoor each had three shares. Their wives each held two shares each. The other 990 shares were not allotted.

Construction of English Point Marina started two years after the Kanjis took full ownership of Pearl Beach Hotels Limited. Amyn does not state when, but the Kanjis later hired Mr Jinnah as a consultant.

The March 1 meeting that Amyn disputes allocated the 990 shares to everyone other than him and Leila.

“Effectively, because of Alnoor, Nafisa and Nazir’s fraudulent allotment scheme, my shareholding has been diluted from owning a 30 per cent stake in the company to a meagre 0.4 per cent,” Amyn states.

He claims that the other shareholders falsely declared to the Kenya Revenue Authority that he was paid a Sh787,852 salary in February, 2020.

“I was not paid any wage for February, 2020 and therefore do not understand why my salary was included for the month. From the face of it, it appears that Nazir, Alnoor and Nafisa deliberately made a false declaration to KRA,” Amyn says.

Amyn wants the DCI to investigate the hotel, which he says may have been converted into a vehicle for committing fraudulent acts. Detectives probing a tiff between English Point Marina and a group of individuals who bought apartments within the premises revealed that they have reason to believe that the hotel is being used to launder illicit funds.

English Point Marina last year filed a suit to stop the investigation but in February, Justice John Mativo allowed the probe to continue.

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