Kenyan businessman Kirimi Koome fails to explain source of Sh 400M invested in a company he claims to be his

Kenyan businessman Kirimi Koome (L) being cross-examined by lawyer Danstan Omari during the hearing of disputed Sh 400 million company. PHOTO/Suek

Kenyan businessman Kirimi Koome has failed to explain to the court the source of Sh 400 million injected into a company he claims ownership.

Koome and Rwandese businessman Desire Muhinyuza are embroiled in a suit over the ownership of Stay Online Limited, Kenya which was registered in mid April 2023.

While giving his testimony before Justice Alfred Mabeya, Koome failed to answer a question by Muhinyuza’s lawyer Danstan Omari on where the money invested into the said company came from.

He could also not tell the court how much of his money was injected into the business.

“That is a business account, the money came from different sources,” Kirimi told the court.

Koome, who is the respondent in the matter was also put to task to explain the source and function of the USD 20,000 and another USD 100, 000 sent to his personal account.

According to him, the USD 20,000 was for the operation costs of the company including paying an alleged CEO of the company, rent, and other expenses.

However, he could not produce any documents or evidence to support his claim. As an alleged sole shareholder and owner of the company, Koome could not tell the court how much the monthly payment of the alleged CEO is nor the monthly rent he pays for the company premises.

The witness could also not produce any letter of appointment for the said CEO but produced minutes of a meeting by the company board appointing him. This board, the court heard, only had one member, Koome.

Businessman Kirimi Koome giving his testimony at a Nairobi court on Sh 400 million disputed tech company. PHOTO/Suek

The court also heard that Koome wrote a letter to Stay Online Limited, his own company, asking for the said money yet he is the sole owner and shareholder of the company.

Koome further claimed the USD 100, 000 was for tax provision for the months of June, July and August 2023 though the end of the financial year is June 2024.

He told the court that he was keeping the money aside so that he is not caught off guard the following year.

However he had not received any communication from the Kenya Revenue Authority on how much tax the company would pay as tax in 2024.

He disputed claims by the Rwandese businessman that he is the beneficial owner of Stay Online Limited even though he has three other similar companies operating in Rwanda, Zambia and Uganda. All of them called Stay Online.

He also refuted claims that Muhinyuza is the brain and financial muscle of his company since he (Muhinyuza) is the one who sourced for the merchants who injected the Sh 400 million into the Kenya company.

Koome termed Muhinyuza as an independent contractor whom he paid for his services.

He could also not produce any records to show that he sent any money to Muhinyuza’s personal account, though records were produced to show that Koome did receive money from Rwanda to his account.

The witness denied knowledge of a document containing Stay Online Rwanda resolution indicating it was planning to expand to Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

He claimed to have no knowledge of how his name ended up in the Rwanda company resolution indicating him as the representative for Stay Online Kenya.

Koome also testified that he holds a degree in business from a US university and a certificate in coding.

But, when told to show where his name appears in the university’s online portal, he claimed his name was not there due to data protection issues.

A document produced in court by the Rwandese shows that Koome and Muhinyuza did visit Kenyan advocate Pamela Ager and told her they wanted to partner and open a company in Kenya.

One thing the parties do not dispute is that they were introduced to each other by Equity Bank e-commerce manager Patrick Kakuba.

Muhinyuza told the court during his testimony that Kakuba is his close friend and recommended Kirimi to him as Kenya representative for Stay Online.

Koome was described to Muhinyuza as a wealthy Kenyan businessman in the real estate business and with good connections.