A European living in Kenya is crying foul after he lost millions of funds in a real estate deal gone wrong.
The middle-aged man of Belgian nationality identified as Jan Proost claims that one William Murage defrauded him over Sh40 million with the fake promise of owning posh apartments and other property in the cities of Nairobi and Nakuru.
Taking advantage of their deep friendship formed out of working abroad together, Murage is said to have convinced Mr Proost into a joint business venture after which they would split their fortunes in half.
This was after he enticed the Belgian into visiting his home country sometime in 2017 after which he confesses to having fallen in love with the nation and its people.
As he explains in his personal account of events shared below, the first few years of the partnership were smooth and transparent.
Things got so good that after long considerations, he made the decision to sell all his possessions in Belgium with the goal of permanently moving back to Kenya and participating in the running of their investments.
But trouble began soon after his arrival.
Communication from Murage on exact business figures grew scarcer by the day.
His former close buddy grew more and more evasive, especially when he tried raising a conversation about his part of the fortune.
Efforts to reach him so they could make arrangements on setting up his own bank accounts proved futile.
At the time, he was still living in one of the 5 apartments they built with his initial investments in Kasarani.
But by 2020 the relationship had grown so sour that Murage kicked him out of the unit.
The space is now occupied by his wife’s sister, rendering Proost homeless.
Below is his full story.
“Hello, Nyakundi. I met a male mzungu who has lost all his life savings to a Kikuyu man.
They were working together for 9 years in the same company in Belgium, mzungus home country.
The Kikuyu guy invited him to Kenya where he lured mzungu to invest in Kenya for good returns.
He agreed since they knew each other.
They invested in real estate & mzungu told me he invested Ksh 40M. And after the apartments were finished, he was given one apartment until one day he was chased away.
He has tried getting justice to no avail. He has tried many tv interviews, courts sessions but he has had no luck.
He has all the documentation.
He would like to expose the Kikuyu man.
NB: Family of the Kikuyu man sides with the mzungu.
He even created a site documenting the injustice with all the documentation.
He now lives in Kasarani,”
“From 2012 to 2013 I worked with William Murage for the same company in Belgium.
It was hard labor, and we built up a good friendship so that in 2013 I accepted his invitation to travel with him in Kenya.
During this first trip in Africa, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of nature and the hospitality of the Kenyan society.
William Murage had 2 finished apartments and 6 new apartments were still under construction in a compound in Kasarani (Plot No. 122/47, City Chicken Road in a neighborhood in Nairobi).
Several families depended on the wages the workers there earned or on the incomes from material sales in the neighbourhood.
I provided William 33 000 € to advance to finish the 6 units.
We had an exceptionally good friendship and had a lot of fun and many plans together.
November 2013, William suggested to invest in the construction of 12 new apartments in Nakuru.
I am now co-owner of a piece of vacant land, for 960 000 KES, according to a signed document.
I gave him 20 000 € to buy that piece of land; (The rest of the money would be used to start the constructions, is what we agreed.)
There weren’t enough funds yet, so I agreed to help William.
The friendship was so close that we agreed to split the rent of the apartments 50/50, or to invest in new joint projects.
This good idea (from William Murage) for collaboration was endorsed in a signed agreement.
A little later (2014) William convinced me to start the construction in Kasarani (Plot No. 122/47) instead of Nakuru.
“The benefits are much higher there.” While I was in Belgium, William proceeded with the finishing of his 6 apartments and he prepared the plans for the 12 new apartments with the help of a local architect and constructor.
There was not enough space for 12 apartments, so we were forced to build just 8 units. In the new apartment block, I could live in 1 apartment and William Murage and his family in another apartment
This is how was the necessary budget for the construction of 12 apartments collected:
– around 40 000 € cash was handed over to William (in several transactions) for buying the necessary materials for the construction project
– 97 000 € of my money was used to buy furniture in Belgium for shipping to Kenya
– with the profit from sales of our joint Kenyan Eurofurniture business (formerly SofaSeats), the apartments were completed … and also a furniture shop
– I also shipped stuts, a mortar mill and construction lift from Belgium to Kenya
The joint Eurofurniture business is on William Murage’s plot and our sales went very well.
I am single and would eventually emigrate to Kenya, would integrate there, and I would help Kenyans for a better future! My life was great! (… until 2018)
William Murage promised to help me to open my own bank account, to buy a piece of land, and to build and run my own business in Kenya in the short term … He knows the right people … We would continue to work together.
That’s why, 25 January 2017, I have sold my house in Turnhout, in Belgium. I was gullible and I bought second-hand and outlet seats in Belgium for 150,000 €, which were purchased by our joint business “Euro Furniture Paradise” for shipment to Mombasa, then were sold on the compound in Kasarani. We did not charge each other working hours and with the profit (after deduction of costs incurred) my investment would be paid back so that I could buy my own plot of land and build my shop. The atmosphere was good and there was open communication. I was comfortable with it.
Until 2017 I was regularly informed of the state of affairs, albeit verbally and without insight into the accounting. Huge profits were made.
End of 2018, I had an appointment with him with the right people to arrange a bank account and “business permit”. He has not shown up 4 times. Eventually, the son of his half brother became my partner in my (still inactive) business. William refused to transfer the money to a joint account I had together with his nephew because this part of the family is unreliable was his opinion. The only condition he would give me the money was, after I succeeded to become a resident.
He proposed to introduce me to a Kenyan lady and organize a fake marriage, so I will remain with my residential permit after divorce. This was apparently the end of the friendship.
After that, all communication about paying back my investment and dividing the profit and rent became very vague and sometimes evasive. Something is wrong, because at the end of 2019 the amount in the account of the business is less than my investment and the amount decreased in 1 year while there are more than 80 seats with serious amount of profit were sold that same year. Communication concerning plans, agreements, money return
2016 July: F2F communication in the truck in Belgium (We will have more than 20 million Kenyan shillings to buy a piece of land on my name, after everything we have in stock is sold)
2019 January: F2F communication in apartment in Kenia (There was +13 million Kenyan shillings and 89 sets of seats in stock)
2020 January 31 : F2F talk with William in the Lunch garden, about business and reimbursement (There was 13 million Kenyan shillings while we sold more than 80 sets of seats on a average price of +170,000 Kenyan shillings)
2020 Jan or Feb : William announces to split the collaboration
2020 February 24 : Phone call; Request for return of money
2020 February 27 : Phone call; William’s unexpected trip to Kenya (while an appointment with me was promised) – My request for his proposal for returning money
2020 March 8, March 12, August 16 : eMails to William with invitation to talk
2020 Feb – Aug : Request for William’s own proposal for reimbursements (amounts, timing, etc.) Several reminders were sent
2020 August 19 : Request evaluation of proposed amicable settlement (Also reminders wee sent)
2020 October 13 : Registered letter, by a Belgian lawyer, asking for reimbursement
2021 January 11 : William delayed meeting of 4th January to 11th of January, but did not show up
2021 January 22 : Registered letter, by a Kenyan lawyer (Mr. Kiprop), asking for reimbursement
ALL EMAIL’S WERE IGNORED BY WILLIAM
2021 February 9 : F2F meeting in a public place together with Mr Kiprop and his assistant (William declined last minute for the morning meeting; but he was present in the afternoon) The situation today William Murage still lives in Belgium in social housing, with benefits. In Kenya he has about 16 rented apartments in Kasarani, a luxurious villa in Kisumu (recently finished), a modern large 4×4 truck, 2 large modern trucks, a shop for the furniture, water tanks (drilled water hole), and a staff of 5 employees and a piece of land in Nakuru. Recently he started a business with logistic services and exchanges his trade with an invaluable Amani Ridge property.
I am broke.
Evolution of the EuroFurniture Paradise (EFP) business
For 5 years, William Murage and myself cooperated.
(2014-2019) Our first 18 containers were shipped from Belgium to Mombasa in Kenya, without invoice and without checks before shipment. I paid all containers, its content and its shipments except for the first container shipment in 2013. This first 20 feet container was loaded with a generator and equipment for paving asphalt and paid by a customer. Several seats collected by William, with low value and poor quality could not be loaded and were demolished. Next 40 feet containers contained value furniture with good quality.
In 2018, I no longer had any cash reserves in Belgium. I started an independent business in Belgium to officially export the second-hand furniture and fitness equipment. My company (Furniture Jake) has paid the invoices from EFP. In this way the necessary money was transferred to continue our activities in Kenya. The furniture and appliances in Kasarani’s store were always sold for more than three times (sometimes ten times) the purchase price. So there was a lot of profit. William had me make invoices with a lower amount than the purchase amount in Belgium. He himself made an even lower bill of purchase for the Kenyan authorities, and then a document for money transfers at higher amount. This was all to avoid taxes as much as possible. The money that came from the business in Kenya had to be used for the purchase of furniture in Belgium. So, I received the amount of the invoice and part of the cash, but never enough to cover my social security contributions and running costs in Belgium.
At the end of 2019 there appeared to be less on the account of the EFP business than before, and I took pictures of the books of the sale in Kasarani. William Murage had no clear explanation, claiming that no money had gone to his private projects. He would “save all money coming out of the business in a particular account” and “never touch one coin” until I would have succeeded with an own Kenyan bank account, an own store and a residential permit. He has a lot of depts at the bank, and will pay them back in the next 23.5 years, he said.
End of January 2020, he unilaterally decided to end our collaboration. “We can’t do business together if there’s no trust” he repeat 4 times He would only deposit € 1,000 per month into my Kenyan business account and would be willing to take out a loan for my plot of land and business in Kenya … But he refuses to post his plan for this and proposed amounts on mail. He is not even ready for any consultation. However, I wanted to be very reasonable, not greedy at all. William Murage has said to have started a company in Belgium himself. However, I fear that William will settle in Kenya, because the business with the 2 trucks is going well and his enormous villa is already finished. My equipment has been removed from my apartment and I am not allowed to go there anymore. The sister of his wife lives there now He has everything now, and I have nothing.
My investments done in the Kenyan EFP business
ALL money invested by Jan in the Kenyan business has to be paid back
117 000 € First 17 containers (can be checked with shipment company invoices; The last one was in September 2016)
20 000 € for the piece of land in Nakuru
150 000 € after house sold from Turnhout is used for
Cash money (see bank notes) Furniture, shipment, taxes, fuel
5 000 € for the old 4×4 (to be written off by Kenya business)
4 500 € for shoring (stuts/pilars)
I am entitled to half of the proceeds of the EuroFurniture store.
Note that I missed rental income from my house in Turnhout, since January 2017 (5 years!).
The property acquired by William after my investment of over € 300,000
Mr and Mrs Murage are owners of 16! apartments in Nairobi, Kasarani. These were all completed in 2016 and are located in a compound in the City Chicken Road that is guarded by their staff. The apartments are all rented out, but information can be found via the following link:
Over the past year (2020, until today) Mr Murage was building his mansion: Recently, in addition to the business Euro Furniture Paradise in Kasarani / Nairobi, William has a company that provides logistics services in exchange for another home (plot 176) in a very residential area in Kenya.
Read the interview William Murage gave:
Several times I witnessed William’s manipulation, swindling, theft, fraud, defaults, dismissals without justification, breaking promises, …. Finally an unacceptable agreement with William
Since 2017, after selling my house, I tried to get everything arranged for getting a bank account, a piece of land and a business permit. I involved a lot of Kenyans after William showed several times for 3 years that he did not want to help me.
After his announcement of the split, early 2020, I asked about his proposal for reasonable and realistic repayment plan. Then I provided him with my own proposal for his opinion. He refused to respond to any mail or other requests from myself or my lawyers until 2021. It’s better to sit down together and count what I owe you, was his reply at the few times he called me. So I went to Kenya, but once I was there he cancelled weekly every meeting proposed by himself, until my visa was almost expired. He even pretended, he organized a meeting with people from Equity and both of us, while he was in Belgium with his family.
Finally, with the help of some people around me, I was able to get the maximum that William was willing to refund:
Kshs. 2,000,000/= which is a refund for conveyance on Title Number BLOCK 144/22 in Nakuru County that failed to materialize to be paid in monthly instalments of Kshs. 100,0000/= for a period of 21 months starting November 2021.
Kshs. 4,600,000/= which is a friendly loan advanced to the Debtor to be paid in monthly instalments of Kshs. 100,0000/= which shall be payable upon successful completion of above.
This means that William can keep his 16 apartments, mansion, pieces of land, and other properties, while I will have less than 72,000 € (in the next + 6 years) of the 450,000 € that he owes me.
This feels UNACCEPTABLE. It is a crime,” Mr Proost writes.