Home » Kenyan sugar baron Jaswant Rai taken to court by brothers over inheritance

Kenyan sugar baron Jaswant Rai taken to court by brothers over inheritance

by Omokolade Ajayi

Two sons of the late Kenyan industrialist Tarlochan Singh Rai are set to take on Kenyan businessman Jaswant Rai in court over the distribution of a multimillion-dollar inheritance left behind by their father, according to Business Daily.

In a court battle that promises to give Kenyans a look into the wealth of the Rai family, Jasbir and Iqbal Rai are objecting to the will dated Dec. 17, 1999, allegedly left behind by their father Tarlochan Singh Rai, who died on Dec. 28, 2010.

The two brothers, who objected to the content of the will and Jaswant Rai, the chairman of Rai Group and the executor of the will, believe their father, Tarlochan Singh Rai, could have been coerced into crafting the document that distributed his assets among his eight beneficiaries.

Jasbir and Iqbal also challenged Jaswant to get the court’s permission to administer the multimillion-dollar business that has a presence in East Africa, Malawi, India and London.

In a show of support, their mother, Sarjij Kaur Rai, who died in January 2021, gave evidence to High Court Judge Aggrey Muchelule to facilitate the redistribution of the assets and empire left behind by Singh Rai.

The late widow opposed the will, saying that Jaswant omitted a huge chunk of the family properties. Prior to her death this year, she explained that her husband had a 42.72-percent stake in Rai Investments Limited, which Jaswant had placed at seven percent.

To facilitate a court action that will lead to the redistribution of Rai’s wealth, she moved to retrieve documents from Rai Investments Limited, which includes all the board resolutions and shares registered from 1992 to date.

The financial argument surrounding the distribution of the family’s wealth threatens to tear the family apart, as Jaswant defended the will, arguing that his father distributed the rightful stake in the business empire to each family member. 

He stated that the beneficiaries included his wife, Sarjij, his sons Jasbir, Jaswant, Sarbjit and Iqbal, as well as daughters Hertej Ashwin Oza, Daljit Kaur Hans, and Sarbjit. He noted that the late businessman also gave some of his wealth to his son Tejpal, who died before him.

His two brothers disagreed with him, saying Rai had left nothing to others in the family, as their sister, Hertej, had not been sufficiently provided for in the will, urging for an additional stake.

The Rai family is one of the wealthiest families in Kenya. The family controls Rai Group, Kenya’s second-largest sugar miller. The group operates through its West Kenya Sugar and Sukari Industries subsidiaries and owns Uganda’s second-largest miller through Kinyara Sugar Works.

Under Jaswant Rai, Rai Group recently offered KSh3.5 billion ($31.61 million) in a leasing tender to control and revive Mumias Sugar over 15 years.

The Kenya Revenue Authority also revisited a $13-million (Ksh 1.4 billion) tax evasion case against the multimillionaire family.

The authority claimed to have evidence that revealed that Menengai Oils Limited, one of the group’s subsidiaries, sold products internally that were earmarked for export to Uganda and Tanzania to evade taxes.

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