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Shock as Kenyan woman, Anne Kihagi-Swain, is fined $2.4M by US court

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A Kenyan landlady who has been described as notorious by the media , Anne Kihagi, who was sued by the SF city attorney two years ago after numerous reports about her shady eviction tactics and unfair treatment of tenants, has been ordered to pay $2.4 million and has also been sentenced to five days in jail for violating provisions of the Ellis Act at one of her properties in West Hollywood.

 

The news was received with shock among Kenyans.

“A Kenyan woman has been fined US$2.4 million (Sh247.5 million) by an American court for being an abusive landlord,” reported a Kenya paper.

Ms Anne Kihagi has been accused of harassing 23 tenants and wrongfully evicting 10 others by using unconventional methods to frustrate among them the elderly and a cancer patient.

Ms Kihagi, a landlord with a portfolio of property worth $24 million (Sh2.5 billion) was also sentenced to five days in a San Francisco jail for violating the housing law.

This is after a two-year bruising court battle with her tenants who have christened her the “notorious landlord”.

In fact, Ms Kihagi may end up being fined up to $4 million (Sh412.5 million) since the judge also ruled

Anne Kihagi

that she must foot the costs incurred during the case.

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Ms Kihagi’s run-ins with her tenants began two years ago when they complained of harassment and uncouth tactics that their landlord used to evict them so she could renovate the building and rent it out at a higher price.

VERBAL AB– USE

According to a report by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the tactics used by Ms Kihagi included: “Fraud, harassment, threats, intimidation, verbal abuse, interrupting gas, electric, water and cable service, failing to cash rent cheques, only to late claim them as untimely rent payment and violating tenants’ privacy by entering their apartments without required notice”.

The tenants also accused Ms Kihagi of installing video surveillance cameras aimed at their front doors.

Ms Kihagi has since garnered a reputation for being a horrible landlord, with Mr Herrera saying, “I’ve gone after a lot of lawless landlords in my time, but Anne Kihagi has a special place reserved for her in San Francisco’s abusive landlord ‘hall of fame’. Her cruelty is stunning.”

In her ruling, Judge Angela Bradstreet noted that Ms Kihagi’s behaviour had serious effects on the lives of several citizens of San Francisco, to the point that one former tenant had to quit her job and move out of the state. In another case, Ms Kihagi forced a tenant suffering from cancer out of his home.

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The court case was under investigation for two years and the ruling attracted a lot of media coverage from San Francisco press.

The US based media have reported that Ms Kihagi irked her tenants so much that some housing rights activists took to the streets to protest against her.

BUSINESS MODEL

US newspapers have reported that Ms Kihagi began buying property in June 2013 in Noe Valley, the Mission and North Beach and the Castro, making her the owner of over 50 units in San Francisco.

It is also reported that Ms Kihagi is working closely with two business associates, Julia Mwangi and Christine Mwangi, known as “The Mwangi sisters” who were jointly sued by the tenants. She also has property in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

Her business model involves buying buildings with long-term, “rent-controlled tenants paying below-market rents and then using a wide range of methods, both legal and illegal, to get rid of the tenants,” a San Francisco newspaper reported.

Once she pushes out the tenants, Ms Kihagi allegedly makes unpermitted improvements in the buildings after which she rents them at a higher price.

Ms Kihagi, who is being represented by her lawyer Karen Uchiyama, blames the case on a tenant activists group that wanted to “make a scapegoat of Anne Kihagi”.

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The lawyer further accused the court of scaring landlords from evicting tenants. The lawyer maintained that Ms Kihagi acted within the law even in evicting the tenants. Meanwhile, Ms Kihagi is appealing the ruling.

-Nairobi news

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Diaspora

E-passport centres launched in six countries to serve diaspora

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The government has launched e-passport centres in six countries to serve Kenyans in the diaspora.

Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma  said the service will initially be available in Kenyan embassies in Pretoria, London, Paris, Dubai, Washington and Beijing before being expanded to other countries.

“We mounted the e-passport infrastructure last week. Kenyans are encouraged to get in touch with the missions for modalities of this process,” she said on Friday.

The launch of the centres means that Kenyans living abroad will no longer have to travel back home to apply.

Presidential directive

Run by the Immigration department, portals will be available on each Kenyan mission’s website, directing applicants on the procedure to follow.

Kenyans in diaspora had complained of lack of service despite a directive by President Kenyatta that the passports be issued in their countries of residence.

The foreign ministry said the Immigration department had been setting up the tools required for deployment of personnel.

Initially, embassies had required Kenyans to register their presence on the portals to help provide the numbers and influence decision on setting up centres.

Immigration service

The Immigration department had said it would start with North America, the Middle East and South Africa before moving to other regions.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages diplomatic missions abroad but issuance of passports is a responsibility of the Immigration department. This means the department will have to send attaches to the embassies to provide the services.

While in Namibia in March, President Kenyatta directed that Kenyans living abroad be issued with the new generation passports in their countries of residence.

source:Daily Nation

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Kenyan MP wanted by US authorities for escaping jail term over tax evasion

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A Member of Parliament who is serving his first term is a wanted man in the US.

Nation has established that Fafi MP Abdikarim Osman Mohamed is on the radar of US authorities over a crime he was sentenced for in 2015.

US media reported that in 2015, the lawmaker was sentenced to 18 months in jail over tax evasion.

He had been charged with 32 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns totaling Ksh61 million.

According to reports, the Criminal Investigation Unit of the US Internal Revenue Service, conducted three undercover operations to catch the MP red-handed.

Planted spies posed as clients who wanted to consult Mohamed and have him prepare their Federal Income Tax Returns for 2007.

He prepared the documents but for each of the spies he was consulting for, he falsely reduced the tax due, resulting in fraudulent tax returns.

After he was arrested, Mohammed entered into a plea bargain with the prosecutors and implicated his accomplice, Yahya Sheikh, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Nation also established that due to fear being arrested, the MP turned down an opportunity to travel to the US with the National Assembly Energy Committee in April 2019.

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The daily’s efforts at reaching the legislator were futile as he was said to be in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland attending some national celebrations.

Fafi MP Abdikarim Osman Mohamed speaking during a forum in Garissa County on 09/02/19

SOURCE-Kenyans.co.ke

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VIDEO: Amb Githae cautions Kenyans in US against DUI, Domestic violence

The Kenyan ambassador to the United States, Robinson Njeru Githae, has cautioned Kenyans living in the United States against breaking the laws of the host country.

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

Mr Githae singled out Driving Under the influence (DUI) which he said was common among Kenyans in some US cities.

“Refrain from drunk driving….Hapa mkono wa sheria ukikupata umekupata (the arm of the law here is very effective),” he said recently when he addressed attendees of this year’s Atlanta Majuu Cultural festival held in Atlanta, Georgia.

He also warned against domestic violence noting that such acts are taken very seriously by law enforcers in the US.

“Whatever you do, don’t break the laws of your host country. Ni vizuri kuacha tabia zingine (let us discard some of these habits)” he added.

In recent years, cases of Kenyans who have been arrested for DUI which have sometimes led to the discovery of other previous crimes and misdemeanors have been on the rise, at a time when the the US Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency has stepped up its enforcement and eventual deportations.

For drivers 21 years or older in most US States, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. For drivers under 21 years old, the legal limit is lower, with state limits ranging from 0.00 to 0.02.

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Lower BAC limits apply when operating boats, airplanes, or commercial vehicles. Among other names, the criminal offense of drunk driving may be called DUI, driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI), or operating while impaired (OWI).

The penalties for drunk driving vary among states and jurisdictions. It is not uncommon for the penalties to be different from county to county within any given state depending on the practices of the individual jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions require jail time and larger fines, even on a first offense.

For instance, Ohio requires a mandatory 72-hour jail sentence for a first offense conviction; however, the jail time component is satisfied by attendance of the Ohio A.W.A.R.E. Program, which is a 72-hour alcohol-education program.

For the most part, DUI or DWI are synonymous terms that represent the criminal offense of operating (or in some jurisdictions merely being in physical control of) a motor vehicle while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both.

There have also been instances where spouses have engaged in domestic violence with most of them ending up in jail or even facing deportation.

Githae commended the organisers of the festival, led by Rev Dr GG Gitahi of Kenyan American Community Church.

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Thousands of people, including renowned Kenyan gospel artistes, graced the annual event which – for the first time in the five years it has been running -was held at the Cobb County Civic Center in the heart of Marietta, Georgia.

The envoy, who has since been named as the new ambassador to Austria, promised to help make the event bigger and better.

“This is very impressive and we should not stop here. We are going to make sure that other communities in the US participate next year,” he said.

[The video will post here as soon as the processing is done. Check back soon]

In the meantime, enjoy the photos courtesy of David King’ang’i of DKK Photography:

PHOTOS COURTESY OF DKK PHOTOGRAPHY

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