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High Court orders disclosure of John Keen’s vast empire

Justice Aggrey Muchelule directed his five children, two of whom are executors of his will, to file with the court a full and accurate inventory within 60 days.

The five are listed as Antony Simel, Pamela Soila, Bernard Olonana, Somoire Keen and Rosemary Sanau.

The decision followed an application by one of Keen’s sons, Edward Meitamei, seeking information on the assets and liabilities in the name of the late politician between when he died and March 8 this year, when he filed his request.

Mr Meitamei said he is a beneficiary of the estate having been given shares by Keen through a written will.

Keen died on December 25, 2016 and left a written will dated December 2, 2015. He appointed Supreme Court Judge Isaac Lenaola, lawyer Maina Wachira and his children Ms Sanau and Ms Soila as executors of the will.

The executors petitioned the court on February 1, 2017 for the grant of probate of the written will and it was issued on April 4, 2017. The grant has not been confirmed.

The polygamous Keen left a large family and a substantial estate. Justice Lenaola resigned as an executor and Mr Wachira has since died. This left Ms Sanau and Ms Soila as the executors of the will.

Also read: John Keen, politician who enjoyed cordial relations with Kenya presidents

Accurate accounts

In his ruling on Mr Meitamei’s request for an inventory, Justice Muchelule noted that Section 83 of the Law of Succession Act tasks executors of a will to provide a full and accurate account of all dealings with the estate up to the date of account.

The judge held that since Ms Soila and Ms Sanau are the executors of their father’s will, they have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the estate, beneficiaries and creditors.

“They have to make sure that Keen’s wishes as expressed in the will are respected and carried out. They are required to manage the estate prudently and appropriately deal with the beneficiaries and creditors in good faith, ensuring that information keeps flowing and ultimately distribute the estate as commanded by the will,” the judge said.

The court, however, dismissed Mr Meitamei’s request for Sh1.8 million to pay his Grade Two child’s school fees and related expenses. He had asked that the money come from the J. Keen Investments Ltd account or from any other account of Keen.

Mr Meitamei’s daughter Zola Sinet had also filed an application seeking Sh4.8 million to pay her school fees and accommodation of 26,400 Australian dollars.

She is a student at the University of Sydney. She asked that the money be directed to come from the J. Keen Investments account or any other accounts of her grandfather’s estate.

Dismissing the two applications, Justice Muchelule said that given the facts tabled in court, he was not able to authorise the executors of the will to release the sought payments.

“I bear in mind that Meitamei and the other children of Mr Keen were given sufficient investments, gifts and properties by Mr Keen while he was still alive. They should be able to draw from these investments and properties to educate their children,” he said. – nation.co.ke

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