An Italian couple is in distress after it lost property worth Ksh14.5 million to fraudsters in Diani, Kwale County.
The couple, Marcello Perrucchetti and Marilena Beli, had bought a parcel of land belonging to a private company with the aim of setting up a holiday home in Diani, Kwale County in 2014.
However, in the midst of constructing their home, the real owner of the land by the name Kinuthia Holdings Ltd, showed up.
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While making a ruling on the case, justice Charles Yano stated that Obadiah Kioko Kavinya, who had sold the parcel of land to the couple, and Caroline Njogu, a lawyer, should refund the money to the Italians as purchase price and other expenses.
“From the evidence on record, what has emerged is a clear fraudulent scheme between Kavinya and Njogu and probably in cohort with the land land registrar of Kwale or its officers,” Justice Yano stated.
In addition, the court directed that the couple be paid a total of Ksh1 million as damages as well as the cost of the law suit.
“The evidence in the case puts no doubt that the title to Kavinya and subsequent subdivision were obtained illegally and through a corrupt scheme,” the court ruled.
He added that Kinuthia Holdings had the original title and had not transferred or sold it to anyone.
“Any title to land obtained fraudulently and through a corrupt scheme is subject to impeachment under the provisions of Section 26 of the Land Registration Act. It cannot be allowed to stand and must be cancelled,” the justice stated.
From the evidence presented in court, the court noted that it could not ascertain whether land ministry officials had colluded with the two in the fraudulent deal.
Numerous cases have been reported where businessmen and women end up losing millions to unscrupulous dealers while buying land.
Before purchasing land, it is advisable to go to the Ministry of Lands and buy 2 maps, one showing the exact measurements of the piece you are buying (called mutation) and the other showing the neighbouring lands. Each costs Ksh 350.
After any land purchase, book a meeting with the Lands Control Board (LCB) to issue consent for the land to be sold. They meet once a month and costs Ksh 1,000. You can also book a special LCB meeting for Ksh 5,000.
A file image of the Mombasa law courts