Divorced British couple locked in Nairobi property dispute
A British businesswoman is embroiled in a bitter property dispute with her estranged husband who she accuses of maliciously filing with the police false complaints on fraud and money laundering to cripple her insurance brokerage business.
Pernille Duckworth, the Fred Black Insurance Brokers managing director, claims that her husband has also been asking the firm’s clients to cross over to an insurance brokerage company he founded after the couple divorced.
Ms Duckworth’s Fred Black Insurance Brokers has filed a suit against her husband Michael Duckworth and another founding director Thomas Ruhiu Kariuki claiming that the two have teamed up to bring her firm down.
Mr Michael Duckworth, in his response, says he reported to the police an incident of fraud, in which he claims his ex-wife forged documents to indicate that he resigned from Fred Black and no longer has any ties with the insurance brokerage firm.
He further denies claims that he attended board meetings in which it was resolved that he be kicked out of the firm.
The couple is in a separate suit fighting over the Karen-based Academy of Dance and Art. Mr Duckworth filed an insolvency petition claiming that his ex-wife had refused to let him exit the company they co-own by sale of his stake.
He adds that the refusal denied him a Sh55 million deal that was to see him relinquish his stake in the school to an investor.
Ms Duckworth further claims that Mr Kariuki has threatened to continue spreading malicious lies about Fred Black unless he is given a 35 per cent stake in the brokerage firm.
“Mr Kariuki and Mr Duckworth have been jointly making false allegations to the regulatory authorities and police that the plaintiffs and its officers are fraudsters and money launderers who have allotted and transferred shares in Fred Black to themselves through forging documents with intent to interrupt Fred Black’s operations,” Ms Duckworth holds.
Fred Black is an insurance broker that mostly deals in the aviation industry. The firm on its website says it has worked with AMREF and property developer Acorn. The firm has another branch in Tanzania.
The Academy of Dance and Art insolvency suit is still before the High Court. Ms Duckworth in 2015 failed in an attempt to dismiss the suit arguing that it has threatened to contravene the rights of third parties like employees whose livelihood depends on the school.
Mr Duckworth in the petition holds that he and his ex-wife are unable to see eye to eye on operation of the school, which he claims Ms Duckworth operates like her personal property and not an institution.
Ms Duckworth in the Fred Black suit says that Mr Kariuki initially had a 35 per cent stake in the firm which was watered down after it increased share capital to Sh20 million from Sh1 million.
Mr Duckworth claims that the suit is a continuation of the war his ex-wife has been fighting against him since their divorce.
“There is no evidence supplied by the plaintiff to show that I have committed any of the acts alleged. This suit is a continuation of my ex-wife’s hatred and contempt for me and discloses no cause of action against me,” Mr Duckworth says.