Foreign investors in the controversial Sh240billion Tatu City project will escape punishment for now after allegedly defaming their local minority shareholders in an acrimonious fall-out that saw a lot of backlash last year.
High Court Judge Roselyne Aburili has also directed a group allied to former Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor, Nahashon Nyagah and industrialist Vimal Shah-the local shareholders, to prosecute the suit against their business rivals within 12 months to bring their wrangling to a close.
Justice Aburili said that there was no sufficient evidence to prove that the founder –Rendeavour Stephen Jennings had deliberately portrayed them as fraudsters over their abortive acquisition of more than 2,000 acres of rich farmland worth Sh5.3billion.
“It would be a travesty of justice to condemn Jennings and his associates on flimsy allegations that they had violated gagging orders issued by Justice Joseph Sergon on September 1, last year, prohibiting them from making unsubstantiated claims against their local partners,” Justice Aburili ruled.
The Judge said Jennings and his partners were not responsible for the posting of the offending statements on social electronic media platforms and could not have been expected to remove the adverse reports.
There was no evidence that they had disobeyed express court orders requiring them to delete video clips covering a speech by Jennings to the business community on June 9, last year, at a Nairobi hotel.
Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi, representing the foreign businessmen, argued that Jennings was justified to protest about the US$100million fraud allegedly perpetrated by the local partners.
Justice Aburili found that Nyagah and his group relied on digital electronic evidence without the necessary transcripts and whose authenticity could not be confirmed.
Foreign investors have accused their Kenyan minority partners of attempting to alienate and sell the prime land located in Kiambu County to third parties.
They said it was a deliberate attempt to swindle them before the ownership dispute is heard and concluded. They have already secured orders blocking the sale and transfer of the prime land.