Connect with us

Africa

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

Published

on

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”.

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.

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.

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

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Africa

University of Botswana to offer Brexit course

Published

on

A course about Brexit, the UK’s plan to leave the European Union, is to be offered as an option by the University of Botswana’s history department.

The course, called Modern Britain, will “study the crisis” as it happens, a notice shared on Twitter said.

Students will, however, not sit for an exam.

Bruce Bennett from the university confirmed to the BBC that the course will be offered.

“[It] is intended to link the present crisis, which is of interest to many people, to the historical background,” he said.

He said that as an elective course students from other departments would be able to take it.

“There has been interest from students from across the university, including of course political science but not limited to them.”

He added that other major events in British history would also be covered.

“This semester the British history course will focus on the Brexit crisis, as it happens, in combination with relevant British history. This historical background includes both relatively recent events such as the Northern Irish Troubles and the Good Friday agreement, and the deeper background.”

Continue Reading

Africa

Igathe ditches Equity Bank and Kenyans wonder whether he can ever keep a job for long

Published

on

Equity Bank Managing Director Polycarp Igathe has rejoined Vivo Energy as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Igathe will assume his new role from September 1, barely a year after joining the lender.

“I am pleased to announce that Polycarp Igathe will rejoin Vivo Energy as the Executive vice president Sales and Marketing, a newly created role that is being added to the Vivo Executive Management (VEM),” Vivo Energy CEO Christian Chammas said in a statement.

In his new role, Igathe will be responsible for sales and marketing across the group.

Igathe was first named as Equity Bank’s Chief Commercial Officer in May 2018. The appointment came four months after he quit as Nairobi Deputy Governor citing lack of trust with his boss Mike Sonko.

He was promoted to the Equity MD position in September.

Igathe was the Vivo Energy Kenya MD before resigning to join politics.

His latest move sent Kenyans on Twitter into a frenzy, with many terming him a lucky guy whom “employment looks for.”

jeff_Elvtwin@JElvtwin

Some of us are seeking employment whereas employment is seeking Polycarp Igathe.

See jeff_Elvtwin’s other Tweets

just STEVE !!!@just_STEVE___

I pray to be as fortunate as one of these guys. Polycarp Igathe, Julius Kipngetich
Able to resign at breakfast and have another job by lunch time

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
44 people are talking about this

A.F. Abbott@MrPhyc

Alafu Polycarp Igathe aanze story za “create employment, don’t just wait to be employed..”

View image on Twitter
See A.F. Abbott’s other Tweets

@nicky🇰🇪@Dennoh0

Next year time like now,Nairobi governor Sonko reappoints polycarp igathe as Nairobi county deputy governor

See @nicky🇰🇪‘s other Tweets

JOE MUHAHAMI@Muhahami

Polycarp Igathe has left Equity Bank and rejoined Vivo Energy.

Damn this guy change jobs like baby diapers 🙊

View image on Twitter
See JOE MUHAHAMI’s other Tweets

Kevoh Alexis@kevinkarobia1

The rate at which Polycarp Igathe is switching jobs makes us wonder what he studied at school@polycarpigathe

View image on Twitter
17 people are talking about this

Lazooj@Lazooj

Polycarp Igathe can switch employers at will, you try switching employers yearly, and in your next job interview utaskia “You don’t seem loyal to your employers, 4 jobs in 2 years? why should we hire you? What guarantee can you give that you won’t leave before the year closes”.

View image on Twitter
42 people are talking about this

erick odhis@erickodhis

“Polycarp Igathe” somebody once told me up there the top of the pyramid they are very few and lonely never be surprised when an individual heads multiple organizations and grace all events invited

See erick odhis’s other Tweets

John Muse@John__muse

Kwani Polycarp Igathe anakuanga na Rocket science degree?

See John Muse’s other Tweets

Continue Reading

Africa

VIDEO: Hope for Stateless Shona Community in Kenya as they are set to be given Birth Certificates

Published

on

Imagine living all your adult life as a stateless person. This is the case with at least 4,000 members of the Shona community who live in Kenya. Originally from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa, they came to Kenya in the 1960s to spread the Gospel and although recognized by Kenya’s founding fathers, they were never granted citizenship. This situation has continued todate denying them basic rights including education and employment.

88 year old Mofat Ngwabi, sits comfortably in his chair in his home in Kinoo in the ouskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Mofat is one of the few still alive who remembers when the Shona people of Zimbabwe arrived in Kenya in the 1960s.

He was part of a group of around 100 missionaries, who came to establish the Gospel of God Church. When they arrived they were met and welcomed by the first post-independence President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. Mofat looks on proudly at a photo of the encounter with the President that hangs on the wall in the church office.

Despite the meeting, and receiving the blessing of the President to establish a church, the Shona could not be registered because under the first post-independence constitution, there was no provision for people not of Kenyan descent to be registered as citizens.

“We can’t enjoy services that nationals enjoy.”

It has rendered them stateless today, meaning without Kenyan citizenship or nationality.

As a result, Mofat, his seven children, nine grandchildren, and two great grandchildren who were all born in Kenya, have never had the right to become citizens. Though they speak the national language, Swahili, and local Kikuyu dialect spoken where they live. Though they are deeply ingrained in Kenya culture, from food to music. Though none of them has ever left Kenya to travel abroad, the fact that they are not recognized as Kenyans has left the family feeling a deep sense of despair.

Kenya. The stateless Shona community still waiting for citizenship88 year old Mofat Ngwabi, stands with his wife, Mangwenya, and the rest of his family near their home on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. UNHCR/T.Jones

It’s a problem affecting over 4000 Shona people in Kenya who descended from the church.

Mike Moyo, a Carpenter in nearby Kiambu County just outside the capital, is in the same situation as Mofat. All of Mike’s 10 children and 7 grandchildren were born in Kenya but are stateless.

“We are like dead men walking.”

“All my 10 children do not have birth certificates, and the older ones do not have identity cards. It’s awful,” says Mike.

Ramik, Mike’s eldest son says the effects have been dreadful.

“We can’t enjoy services that nationals enjoy. We don’t have mobile banking and going to the hospital is also a challenge. Birth certificate are needed for class 8 registration for our children who are in primary school so sometimes we are forced to ‘buy’ parents so that our children can continue with education. We cannot even save money.”

And so the vicious cycle of statelessness continues to the next generation in the Moyo family.

Carpenter-132 year old Ramik Mofat Moyo is Mike Moyo’s son. He is also a carpenter. Ramik just like his children, was born and raised in Kenya. They are all stateless. UNHCR/T.Jones

“All my 10 children do not have birth certificates, and the older ones do not have identity cards. It’s awful.” 61 year old Mike Moyo is a carpenter, a skill he inherited from his Shona forefathers from Zimbabwe. UNHCR/T.Jones

Some Shona people have married Kenyans which has helped their children acquire documents such as birth certificates. But the Shona say marrying nationals is not the solution. They say they deserve to be recognized as Kenyans.

The situation has meant that thousands of Shona people can’t be employed formally, and so survive doing informal work.

Many Shona women  weave baskets and do bead work to put food on the table they say. A lack of documents has forced them to sell their products for far less than they are worth through middle men.

Ben Kapota, a stateless father of eight who also lives in Kiambu says;

“I have been arrested several times because of moving around without an identity card. My community members had to bail me out. We are like dead men walking. If anything happens to us far from home, people will not be able to identify you just because you do not have an identity card.”

“I have been arrested several times because of moving around without an identity card.”

“If I got an ID card today, the first thing I will do is to get a driver’s license, then get a passport and start doing business.” Says Ben.

Kenya. The stateless Shona community still waiting for citizenshipStateless, Ben Kapota, sits with his daughter Blessing at a carpentry workshop run by the Shona community in the town of Kiambaa on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. UNHCR/T.Jones

Kenya. The stateless Shona community still waiting for citizenshipShona women weave baskets on the floor of their home in the town of Githurai on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. It’s their only source of income. UNHCR’s #IBelong campaign is committed to ending statelessness for an estimated 10 million people worldwide. UNHCR/T.Jones

Despite the situation, many Shona are however hopeful that the Kenyan government will give them citizenship soon.

Shona community leaders and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Kenya, have met with the government to try and find a solution for Shona people.

The Makonde community, originally from Mozambique were recently recognized by the government as Kenyans and given nationality, as the 43rd tribe of Kenya. This act has revived hopes that there will be a speedy solution for the Shona.

Read our statelessness report, “This is our home”: Stateless minorities and their search for citizenship” here. The report was released to mark the third year of the #IBelong campaign to end statelessness.

Continue Reading

Are you looking for a Church to fellowship in Atlanta Metro Area?

poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2019 Calendar

February 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728  
satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending

error: Content is protected !!