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Police looking for one of the wealthiest Kenyans you probably didn’t know of

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When police raided Humphrey Kariuki’s multimillion alcohol empire in Thika town last week, the world of Kenya’s most reclusive billionaire was opened for all to see.

Detectives led by Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet and senior Kenya Revenue Authority officials made what they said was a dazzling find: An estimated 21 million counterfeit excise stamps and 312,000 litres of illicit products — all worth billions of shillings in taxes.

Mr Kariuki’s Africa Spirits Limited is now under police watch — and by last evening, detectives were still looking for him.

Humphrey Kariuki, 62, is the founder of Janus Continental Group, a conglomerate that includes The Hub – a premier shopping mall in Nairobi; Africa Spirits, a leading manufacturer of Alcoholic beverages; Dalbit Petroleum, one of the largest oil distributors in East and Southern Africa, and Great Lakes Africa Energy, a U.K-based company that is a developer and operator of power projects in Southern Africa. Ndegwa is also the owner of the 5-star Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, and the neighboring Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and Animal Orphanage. One of Kenya’s most prominent businesspeople, Kariuki is also one of its most controversial. He had been linked in the past to organized crime, but always denied his involvement with businesses in the underworld. Last year he won a libel suit against the popular Standard Newspaper in Kenya on allegations linking him and his businesses to human, narcotics and weapons trafficking.

Humprey Kariuki Ndegwa

Africa Spirits is only a small part of Mr Kariuki’s multibillion empire — all under the name of a holding company, Janus Continental Group and which encompasses all that a billionaire would want: A five-star luxurious Mt Kenya Safari Club originally a retreat to famous Hollywood stars such as William Holden — who founded the club.

Its members once included British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US singer and actor Harry Bing Crosby.

The name Janus is significant in one critical way — and for such an empire.

Janus, which means “the beginning and origin of things”, is an ancient two-faced Roman god who provided protection in the beginnings and endings “at the gates, the doorways, and passages and endings”.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

As a god, Janus had the uncanny ability to see both in front and behind; thanks to his being a two-faced god.

But when detectives raided one of Janus’ establishments in Thika — it seemed that the protection against any nosy raid on Janus properties had vanished; at the tail-end of January (which ironically stands for the month of Janus).

Unlike other billionaires who love publicity, Mr Kariuki is the country’s equivalent of Mr Brad Kelley, the US tycoon known for his love of exotic animals, and who despite his extra-ordinary wealth shies away from publicity.

IMPORTED CARS

Born 61 years ago in Nyeri in a family of 10, Mr Kariuki studied at Nairobi School and Kagumo High School before joining Central Bank of Kenya when he was only 19 as a clerk.

“I was at the bottom of the ladder. I always tell people that in life you need to start from the bottom; the only place where you start at the top is when you’re digging a well. So I started as a clerk, and then went on to work in various other departments in the bank,” he told Forbes magazine in 2017.

Mr Kariuki says he made some “decent income” at Central Bank and that he ventured into the business world by importing cars — starting off with a car owned by his UK-based elder sister which he had shipped to Nairobi.

“I was able to sell (the car) at double the price my sister was asking for. I gave my sister her money and kept the rest for myself. I was amazed, and I wondered: ‘Is this how easy it is to make money?’”

And that is the story that Mr Kariuki tells about his rise into the billionaire ranks.

MEETING PLACE

He would later set up the famous Green Corner Restaurant at Nairobi’s Tumaini House, behind Kencom House, where he struck everyone as a hands-on manager.

Every morning, in the late 80s and early 90s Mr Kariuki — slim and always smartly dressed — would be here walking the tables and freely engaging his customers.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

At best, he was always at hand to deal with customer complaints right away and this made Green Corner the go-to-and-must-be-seen-at place for the hip crowds of Nairobi.

The building, owned by the National Council of Christian Churches (NCCK) — was by then the mini-headquarters of anti-Moi elite squad and housed offices of fierce critics such as Pius Nyamora’s Society Magazine, lawyer Gitobu Imanyara’s Nairobi Law Monthly, and Dr Oki Ooko Ombaka’s Public Law Institute (PLI).

Green Corner, downstairs, was the perfect meeting point of all multiparty crusaders – likes of Raila Odinga, Paul Muite, Gitobu Imanyara and Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o.

Another common face at the restaurant was Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya boss John Harun Mwau — a well-known millionaire.

RESTAURANTS

Whether Mr Kariuki took note of this crowd is not clear — but those who saw him then knew he was always apolitical. “He would say hello and disappear,” a man who knew him in those days tells this writer.

“We made the best hamburgers, steaks, and samosas among other things. For years, Green Corner was the place where professionals who worked in Nairobi converged for their lunch and business meetings,” he said in the Forbes interview.

Humphrey Kariuki presents a donation.

Besides Green Corner, Mr Kariuki also had another restaurant which he named Twigs, which was next door to Green Corner but serving the higher end of clients.

For some strange reason, Green Corner was better known than Twigs Restaurant.

At the indoor parking of Tumaini House, Mr Kariuki’s car business blossomed and here, one could find the latest state-of-the-art European motor vehicle models such as BMWs, VWs, Mercedes and Range Rovers.

ALCOHOL

At any given time, there would be an average of five vehicles with foreign registration number plates.

After a few days, the vehicles would be replaced with another different set — meaning he was in a booming business.

That Mr Kariuki would be able to import such high-end cars at a time when the foreign exchange regime was prohibitive meant a lot on the kind of business strings that he managed to pull or, perhaps, pointed to his acumen as an astute businessman.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

But again, Mr Kariuki had previously worked at the Foreign Exchange Department of CBK which was approving foreign currency for businessmen intending to import goods.

While still in his late 20s, Mr Kariuki ventured into wines and spirits distributorship through Wines of the World Limited as the distributor for Jack Daniels, Bacardi and the Edrington Group, whose premium brands include The Macallan, The Famous Grouse, and Brugal rum.

SOUTH SUDAN DEALS

Later on, he started building his own factory in 2002 with the brand Blue Moon Vodka manufactured by Africa Spirits Limited – the company that was raided by detectives.

“I’m proud to say that Africa Spirits Limited is the most successful indigenous alcoholic beverage company in Kenya today,” he had said two years ago.

But the big break came after he was introduced to South Sudan wheeler-dealers and he managed to strike multimillion-dollar oil and construction deals.

“The margins were astronomical. The volumes weren’t much, but the margins were crazy,” he told Forbes.

It was this period that he built the Hub shopping mall in Karen and also bought Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki.

Besides the current raid on his factory, Mr Kariuki’s efforts to get an exclusive license to import and distribute 214 premium wine and spirit brands including Bacardi-Martini labels has been thwarted by the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) this year.

The Wines of the World wanted to enter exclusive distribution agreements with various alcohol manufacturers.

The DCI alleges that Africa Spirits has been smuggling ethanol of questionable quality which has been used to produce some of its popular vodka, gin, and whisky brands which the DCI says is unfit for human consumption. The Kenya Revenue Authority also alleges that the company has failed to remit more than $30 million in taxes. The authorities have since arrested and detained a production manager at the factory to facilitate further investigation.

 

Agencies

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Africa

Invitation to the African Girls Hope Foundation Annual Gala happening this Saturday in Atlanta

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BY BEN KAROMO

African Girls Hope Foundation (AGHF) annual Gala is happening this Saturday at the Kenyan American Community Church in Marietta, Georgia, USA. AGHF  is a non-profit founded by Grace Faraja, a former refugee from the 1990s civil war that ravaged the DRC. She started the foundation to help educate girls in rural Congo caught in the ongoing civil unrest, poverty and disease.

As a former beneficiary of a full scholarship that changed her life, Grace believes providing an education to orphaned and less privileged girls can open a world of opportunities to them and help then end the cycle of poverty and early marriages.

This year, AGHF’s aim is to provide full-year scholarships to 120 girls at a cost of $29 per month per girl. We are seeking your help to raise funds to meet the overall goal of $34,000 for the year 2019-2020.

We ask you to help us meet this goal by donating on our website at https://africangirlshopefoundation.com/.

We prayerfully desire to support the education of 120 girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. With hope that God will open doors to other African countries in the near future. We have partnered with a local pastor running a school in the village of Mulenge in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

Our partner has identified numerous girls in the village who are orphans of father and mother. Girls selected as AGHF beneficiaries are 65% of orphans of both parents.

Atlanta residents, please join us for our Annual Fundraising Gala dinner, to be held on November 9th at the Kenyan American Community Church KICC in Marietta, Georgia. Dinner and parking will be provided.

Below are some of the girls who need our help:

 

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Kenya’s Filthy Rich and Politically Connected running Govt Agencies

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Kenya has become the butt of jokes (no pun intended!) as the country wastes away due to corruption overseen by those in the highest office in the land.

Despite the billions being wasted daily repaying loans that have benefited a few individuals, Kenyans, on the other hand, are languishing as those entrusted with making their lives better continue looting. The country has become a gangsters’ paradise.

Wambui Kibaki and Her Millions

The first agency that was established by an act of parliament to empower youth is the National Employment Authority which has become a fresh wound for job seekers who never seem to meet the criteria for securing a government job.

On Tuesday, Kenyans were up in arms after it became public that President Uhuru Kenyatta had appointed President Kibaki’s wife, Mary Wambui, as the Authority’s Chairperson.

For a term of three years, Wambui is expected to ensure that jobless Kenyans get opportunities and jobs that can alleviate their suffering.

Ironically, Wambui, a conservative and controversial millionaire does not need the job in the sense that she already has more than enough. But why would she take such a position? That is for the appointee and the appointing authority to explain to Kenyans.

 

 

Most other authorities are led by people whose only merit is being politically connected.

These include the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) whose leadership comprises of Eng Joseph Nakodony Nkadayo as the Chairman with Captain Gilbert Macharia Kibe as the Director-General. Nkadayo succeeded a political reject, Samuel Poghisio, who left the entity in 2017 after serving for 2 years.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

The other is Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) whose disappointing performance could only go to show the incompetence of those appointed.

Interestingly, the former long-serving head of civil service Francis Muthaura is the chairman of the tax collector. He was appointed for the position last year.

The Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA) non-executive chairman is John Mati Munuve.

An interesting political reject serving on the SASRA board is former North Imenti MP Silas Muriuki Ruteere.

Muriuki is a teacher by profession with specialized training in Special Education.

Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) is chaired by Halima Abdillahi Shaiya who was fired from the Kenya Meat Commission in 2014.

A suspension letter presented in court showed that the KMC board was fired for breaching procurement rules, poor performance and failing to implement directors’ resolutions.

The Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) is chaired by a relative to President Uhuru Kenyatta Victor R. Pratt. Pratt is the husband to Christine Wambui Kenyatta, now Kristina Pratt, who is Uhuru’s older sister.

A politician on the board of directors going by the information on the Authority’s website is politician Sammy Koech who is the MP for Konoin.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) is chaired by Lt Gen (Rtd) Jackson Ndungu Waweru. He was appointed in 2016.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) is chaired by Eng Erastus Mwongera whose appointment was challenged in court. In the petition by Peter Tana, Mwongera’s appointment was in gross violation of the rule of law.

Tana said that is not suitable to serve in the capacity since he had already served two terms. The tenure at KeNHA is to end in March 2021.

Mwongera cannot discharge any official duties as KeNHA Chairperson until the hearing and determination of the petition.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is chaired by John Konchellah but the interesting twist is the political connections in the authority’s op management.

Rejects serving at NEMA include Agostinho Neto who was the Ndhiwa MP in a by-election in 2012 and re-elected in 2013.

The immediate former Tana River woman representative Halima Ware Duri also serves as a board member.

In March this year, the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) board appointments caused an uproar since the maximum number of 10 appointees was surpassed by 3 members.

The board is chaired by former MP Jackson Kiptanui.

And the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is chaired by another political appointee Retired Joseph R.E Kibwana.

Kibwana, who was the first Navy officer to occupy the office of the Chief of General Staff, oversaw the transition of power from President Daniel Moi to President Mwai Kibaki after the 2002 election.

The General has a chequered career having been among the first of 10 African officers and servicemen recruited to the Navy in 1964.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) is chaired by Isaac Awuondo.

In August, KAA announced the departure of its Managing Director/CEO Jonny Andersen, effective September 30, 2019.

“Jonny has been with the KAA since November 2016 opted not to renew his contract which was due to expire on November 21st 2019,” said a statement from the Authority.

James P.M. Ndegwa is the Chairman of the Capital Markets Authority (CMA). Coming from among Kenya’s wealthiest families, his seat at the table is reserved.

Interestingly, Muthaura’s son Paul Murithi is the CEO. He was appointed on April 22, 2016 with the call backdated to January 2, 2016.

He is expected to leave CMA at the end of this year after serving for seven-and-a-half years.

Out of the 14 Authorities in Kenya, most of them have politicians who have lost in elections appointed as board members or chairs.

In a country where a majority of the youth are wasting away despite their academic qualifications, consecutive governments have consistently sidelined the youth in favour of the politically connected.

Only President Kibaki gave the youths a considerate treatment when he opened the system for youth self-employment. Kibaki’s time saw the country register the highest number of the motorbike industry jobs.

It is at this time that boda bodas became part and parcel of the Kenyan society.

-businesstoday.co.ke

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Remains of victims of Ethiopian Airlines crash flown home

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The remains of thirty-two Kenyans who perished in the tragic Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plane crash on March 10, 2019, have been flown to Nairobi today.

An Ethiopian Airline plane carrying the fragments of the deceased landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Monday morning.

The remains arrived in specialised caskets and a brief function was held after arrival. Only close family members are to be given the caskets bearing the fragments.

The bodies were severely damaged beyond recognition prompting Ethiopian Airlines to consider DNA analysis to identify their remains.The 32 victims are among 157 people who were killed in the plane crash at Bishoftu town, shortly after taking off to Nairobi.

It is after the International Police through its Incident Response Team revealed on September 12, 2019, that it had successfully identified the 157 passengers who boarded the plane.The team declared the exercise a success saying “six months on after the plane crash, every single victim has been successfully identified.”

Family members of the victims of the Ethiopian Plane crash that killed 157 people from different nationalities visited the crash site to give their last respect and prayers to their departed one at Tulu Fera in Ejera. [ Maxwell Agwanda, Standard]

“The INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) deployed following the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane in March has completed its task, assisting with the successful identification of all victims of the deadly disaster,” the Interpol noted on its website.It noted that the identification exercise was prompted by a request from the airlines’ company.

READ ALSO:   Policeman dies at billionaire Kariuki's Thika factory

It stated: “At the request of the Ethiopian authorities, two days after the accident INTERPOL sent an IRT to assist with the operation. The team’s role was to coordinate the international police disaster victim identification (DVI) response and coordinating the antemortem data supplied by member countries.

”Interpol further revealed that the process was aided by a team of 100 DVI experts drawn from 14 countries in Africa, Europe and America. The exercise took 50 days.

Fingerprints and DNA samples were extracted from 48 people, Interpol noted.Also in September, the US-based Boeing planes manufacturer had announced that it had set aside USD2 billion as Financial Assistance Fund for assisting families of victims of the plane crash, which involves the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 nosedived just six minutes after leaving Bole International Airport to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport killing all on board.In the incident, Kenya was the worst-hit country losing 32 victims in the crash.

By Standard

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