The billionaire Rai family has once again hit the headlines in a controversial fashion. This follows the alleged daylight abduction of Jaswant Rai who is the Kabras Sugar Company chairman on August 25, 2023. Jaswant was released two days later on August 27, 2023.
Although unrelated to the alleged abduction incident, the Rai family has been hitting headlines for some unpleasant reasons. In early 2022, the lid on details of the vast estate that is owned by the Rai sons was partially opened amidst a public family battle over wealth
This was after the family members went to the High Court in protest over a Will that was left behind by the family’s patriarch Tarlochan Singh Rai who died on December 28, 2010, in Mumbai, India.
In the court battle, sons Jasbir and Iqbal were objecting to the Will. The two sons argued that the family patriarch could have been coerced into crafting the Will that distributed his assets among his eight beneficiaries.
The Will was dated December 17, 1999. The executor of the Will is Jaswant Rai who is the chairman of Rai Group.
In the court case, they also protested Jaswant Rai’s bid to get the court’s permission to administer the multi-billion business.
The business which has spread and dominated the sugar sector also has a presence across East Africa, Malawi, India, and London.
The businesses include cement production (Rai Cement), edible oils and soaps (Menengai Oil Refineries), sawmilling (Timsales, RaiPly and Webuye Panpaper), wheat farming, horticulture, sugar industry (Kabras Sugar) and real estate (Tulip Properties).
Jaswant, who was allegedly abducted on August 25, 2023, however, defended the Will. He argued that his father distributed the rightful share of his wealth to each family member, including Tejpal who passed away.
Rai Family Will
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.
This was contested by the two sons. Their late mother, Sarjij Kaur was part of the petition contesting the list of beneficiaries and the listed stakes. Sarjij and her sons had told the court that Rai had left nothing to Jasbir, Iqbal, and daughter Daljit.
They had also contested that a daughter, Hertej, had not been sufficiently provided for in the Will, and urged that she receive additional property.
Rai Family in Court
They also accused Jaswant of leaving behind huge chunks of wealth left behind by the family’s patriarch. The properties provided by Jaswant in court include Rai Plywoods (K) Ltd, Rai Produces Ltd, Rai Holdings Ltd, Rai Agriculture Enterprises Ltd, Rai Investments Ltd and Rai Ceramics Ltd, Tulip Properties Ltd, Rai Expo Park Ltd, and houses in Kampala, Runda in Nairobi and in Canada.
Jaswant told the court that his father left behind a net worth of Sh. 329 million with no liabilities. However, his relatives claimed that their father had declared that he owned 42.72 percent of Rai Investments Limited in 1999, a declaration that Jaswant has stated at seven percent.
They also claimed that Jaswant left out Rai Management and Technical Services Limited registered in the tax haven of Jersey Island, Rai Agro Industries Limited in Sangrur in India, and companies known as Stonybrook Limited and Waterloo Limited both registered in the Cayman Islands, and millions of dollars in accounts at Citibank outlets in London and New Delhi in the Will.
They also told the court that Jaswant and their father were shareholders of Rai Holdings Limited in Kampala, which in 2006 bought a 51 percent stake in Kinyara Sugar Works at Sh. 3.7 billion.