By BRIAN WASUNA and JOHN KAMAU
Of all the Kenyan billionaires — and they are a handful — reclusive businessman Madatali Chatur could be the least known.
Although he shuns publicity these days, he was in the 80s a common face in the media but as money, power, and wealth followed him, he became the invisible billionaire.
With a fortune that runs into billions of shillings, his decision to sell all his Kenyan properties, estimated to be worth Sh76.99 billion, must have caught everyone by surprise — but not those who know him.
“He was not getting well with some government people,” a source who knows him told us without getting into details.
Whether he has seen warning signs ahead in the real estate market, or he is escaping from uncertainty is not clear. Some pundits see this dramatic decision as either a vote of no confidence in the economy — or a feeling that he can no longer survive the changing political atmosphere.
For over three decades, Mr Chatur built an enviable empire with several properties on hundreds of acres spread across the country, which he claims, rose from an electronic shop that he opened in River Road, Nairobi, in 1977.
During the days of Kanu, Mr Chatur was a blue-eyed boy of the regime and hobnobbed with the party mandarins, power brokers and security chiefs — including some former police commissioners who were on his speed dial.
He would also be part of Asian delegations to State House, contributing money President Moi’s projects and was a known philanthropist.
As his networks grew and wealth ballooned, Mr Chatur consolidated his portfolio under a group that boasts 16 companies, all of which own prime land in Nairobi, Nakuru, Machakos, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale and Turkana counties.
Little had been heard about Mr Chatur until February this year when Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter was arrested alongside Mr Arthur Ingolo Sakwa and “a Mr Madatali Chatur” for what the Central Bank of Kenya and the Banking Fraud Investigations Unit said was presenting a forged 90-day Treasury Bills dated 1990.
But the Chatur Group of Companies said the arrested “Mr Madat Suburali Chatur” was not related to their chairman, Mr Madat Saburali Chatur.
At the moment, the actual reasons for the looming sale remain unknown, as efforts to get an explanation from Mr Chatur have been futile.
The businessman told the Daily Nation on Saturday last week that he was out of town and would get in touch once back.
He has since not answered calls or responded to text messages.
Investigations by the Daily Nation have however revealed that the businessman, reputed to be one of the wealthiest in Kenya, has land and buildings valued at Sh76.99 billion.
Each of his 16 companies own prime properties, while some of the real estate is registered in his own name.
The Chatur Group mainly deals in real estate, but it has now emerged that the tycoon also has interests in the agriculture sector, owning two farms in Kwale and Malindi measuring 32,499 acres.
He co-owns most of the companies with his eldest son — Rahim.
MARKED FOR DEMOLITION
But even as Mr Chatur looks to cash in on his vast empire, City Hall has marked two of his properties for demolition, arguing that the billionaire businessman acquired building approvals illegally.
City Hall in August gave notice to Mr Chatur’s tenants at New Muthaiga Mall and a car bazaar the tycoon owns in Gigiri that it would be bringing down the constructions. Mr Chatur has since sued through Gemini Properties (New Muthaiga Mall) and Scorpion Properties (Gigiri Mall).
Judicial review division judge Pauline Nyamweya last Wednesday transferred the suit to the lands courts.
“Neither the applicants nor their tenants were afforded a fair administrative action before this decision was made since no prior notice was given of the decision nor a hearing was afforded to the applicant or its tenant.”
“There is no claim by the director of physical planning in the enforcement notice or any iota of evidence that the herein attached approvals of the development plans were acquired through fraudulent means or are forgeries. The applicants’ buildings have been financed by a bank facility which is being paid to date. The loss of tenants will lead to foreclosure of the applicants’ property, which will cause substantial loss and irreparable harm,” Mr Chatur’s son Rahim says in court papers.
REAL ESTATE INTERESTS
His real estate interests are spread across commercial, residential and hospitality facilities.
His commercial buildings include Mithoo House, Diamond Plaza, Diamond Plaza II, Hope International, Ngara Shopping Complex, Simba Centre, Mariam Arcade, Likoni Mall, Trust Building and New Muthaiga Shopping Mall.
The residential buildings include Langata Paradise Apartments, Bahari Dhow Villas, and houses in Nyari Estate and Fourth Parklands Avenue.
His hospitality arm has the Concord Hotel and Suites, Mara Concord, Shelly Beach Resort and the Cloud Hotel.
The agriculture side has land in Lokichogio, Maanzoni in Machakos, Syokimau, Malindi, Mai Mahiu and Mombasa.
Leo Investments is perhaps the billionaire’s most successful venture, owning several high value properties such as Diamond Plaza (Sh20 billion) named after his late brother, Concord Hotel (Sh3 billion), Mithoo House on River Road (Sh2 billion), the Mara Concord (Sh700 million), Ngara Shopping Complex (Sh480 million) among others.
Diamond Plaza, aside from letting space to several shops, also hosts the Chatur Group offices.
LITANY OF CASES
The businessman’s wealth has not been without controversy, as he has been a defendant in a litany of court cases filed against him and his firms over deals gone sour.
At least twice, Mr Chatur has been found to be in contempt of court in property battles, which has seen him fined.
In 2010, High Court judge Ruth Sitati fined Mr Chatur and his son Rahim Sh300,000 after finding that they disobeyed her order stopping works on the Sh3 billion New Muthaiga Shopping Mall.
The stop order had been issued following a suit by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, which was investigating how the land ended up in the hands of private developers, having been listed as public property.
Muthaiga residents had gone to court seeking to have the construction of the mall stopped, saying the land had been earmarked for a nursery school and a clinic.
“The public plot was allocated to Gemini Properties with a new land reference number being 209/9295 in place of the original 209/8000/84, subject however to certain special conditions and in particular condition number 5 which was to the effect that the suit property would be used for a clinic and day nursery school,” say court papers.
The allocation of the suit property consisted of a public utility, was illegal and accordingly Gemini Properties holds the suit property in trust for the citizens of Kenya and for the residents of New Muthaiga in particular,” the residents argued.
Justice Sitati, who also presided over the claim by Muthaiga residents, ruled that only the Attorney General could sue to recover public land, which allowed Mr Chatur to start construction of the mall.
Mr Chatur’s family owns New Muthaiga Shopping Mall through Gemini Properties.
Five years later, another High Court judge, Olga Sewe, found Mr Chatur in contempt.
Singer speaks after attacking lover at WCB signee Zuchu’s star-studded concert
56 minutes ago
On 18 July, there was fanfare at the Mlimani City Hall in Dar es Salaam as WCB signee Zuchu held a thanksgiving concert months after her debut EP, I Am Zuchu. The event dubbed ‘Ahsante Nashukuru’ mainly featured performances by artistes from the WCB stable and attracted the whos-who in the Tanzanian entertainment and political scenes.
However, singer Gigy Money who also performed made the headlines for the wrong reasons after getting into a scuffle with her lover during the much-publicised concert.
READ ALSO: I was bewitched by a friend – Gigy Money
Peaceful arrival, later chaos
Moments earlier, Gigy and her Nigerian man were seen arriving arm in arm at the event whose highlight featured Zuchu receiving a brand new car from WCB head honcho Diamond Platnumz. Donning matching outfits, the couple was spotted on the red carpet as the paparazzi scrambled to capture the moment. However, all hell breaks loose later and viral videos depict the visibly angered Nigerian arguing with a bouncer at the entrance. After a tense confrontation, Gigy’s man is seen being led by the screaming bouncer towards the exit. Shortly after, a similarly irritated Gigy emerges and follows the pair.
“Gigy! Wewe Gigy wewe!” a woman in the background is heard dissuading the singer from pursuing them but the singer pays no heed and heads for the pair.
“You want to beat me?” the boyfriend is heard asking an approaching Gigy as the bouncer acts as a barrier between them. The bouncer manages to steer the incensed man towards the exit as Gigy follows behind, hurling obscenities.
At some point, a barefoot Gigy turns into a sprint before throwing one of her shoes which hits the man who then responds with an insult. Another bouncer finally intervenes and the two are separated. Gigy then asks for her vehicle so she can head home before warning the press against sharing videos of the incident.
Though the cause of their tiff is still unknown Gigy later made reference to the shocking incident in a social media post, hinting that alcohol had a part to play in the fracas. In another post, Gigy shared a photo alongside her estranged lover writing: “My mad man looked handsome before his demons arose and mine arose too.”
‘Running over Ali Kiba’
Gigy is not new controversy and recently said she’d run over her ex, singer Ali Kiba for breaking her heart.
“I will knock all of them down, I mean I will kill them. In fact, I will flatten them like chapatis. The first person I will knock down and kill is Ali Kiba. Actually, I don’t need a weak car, I need a Fuso so that when I knock him down I will be sure he doesn’t survive,” Gigy told Ayo TV.
Dating Kiba brothers
Gigy had in the past admitted to dating both Ali Kiba and his younger brother, Abdu Kiba. She solely laid the blame on Chekecha singer for pursuing her despite knowing that she’d been with his younger brother. Abdu expressed being heartbroken after learning the two had a fling, prompting him to marry.
“I was very hurt on hearing that Ali was dating Gigy Money because I dated her first before she became famous. But it’s alleged that Ali didn’t know. It hurt me for a while till when I married,” said Abdu.
Defunct Nairobi County Council Nurses Go On Strike, Citing Discrimination By The Government
Why Jahmby Kokai is happy her TV anchor dream never came true
37 minutes ago
Popular media personality Jahmby Koikai narrated how her first attempt at auditioning as a TV host backfired and she was sent home on the first day of the audition. Reliving her prime days, Jahmby narrated how she was determined to follow her dream of becoming a news anchor after completing her degree.
“There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro FM. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it.
“Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu?” she posed.
According to the endometriosis survivor, she went ahead to audition for the position despite the warning and was the first contestant to be sent packing.
“So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said some of us have to go home.
“My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news,” she narrated.
Later, Jahmby auditioned for another TV opportunity only to miss out as well.
“Then came another opportunity over 10 years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. I didn’t get the job.”
However, due to endometriosis, Jahmby was forced to put her dreams on hold and concentrate on getting better. According to her, it is as though God had better plans for her and is grateful to not have gotten the jobs.
“I battled severe endometriosis in silence for over 19 years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilized all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant.”
There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro Fm. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it. Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu? Nikasema zi. So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said, some of us have to go home. My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news. Then came another opportunity over 10years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. As you see in this pic, I got my hair done at Ralph’s Hair Salon, new suit etc. I didn’t get the job. After KBC, I never got to anchor the news again. I’m grateful I did not get the job even though I felt dejected at the time. I battled severe Endometriosis in silence for over 19years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilised all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant. There are many people like me who are bound by chronic illness and cannot do the things they love. I share your pain. But there’s hope. I’m grateful to God for His reminder that He will restore to you all the years that the locusts have eaten. Also Jer 29:11