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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”.

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

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Conversion of Kenyan currency suspended in Uganda

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The governor visited Dr Ruto at his office at Harambee Annex, Nairobi to deliver the serial number 2 currency notes. Serial number 1 was given to President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 1, 2019, during Madaraka Day celebration. PHOTO | DPPS

Uganda has joined Tanzania in suspending the conversion of Kenyan Shillings as a measure to tame illicit cash flows.

In a statement issued on Monday, Bank of Uganda said it had been informed by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) that they have issued new banknotes effective May 31, 2019.

“Bank of Uganda will not accept Kenya Shillings at its counters with immediate effect,” Bank of Uganda said in a statement.

“Please be advised that changing Kenyan currency from old to new banknotes can only be done in Kenya,” the statement further read.

COUNTERFEITS

On Friday the Bank of Tanzania also suspended conversion of Kenyan currency to Tanzanian currency.

According to Tanzanian financial institution, they were advised to freeze the exercise by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in a move to tame illicit cash flows.

“With a view to combat illicit financial flows and counterfeits into the Republic of Kenya, the Bank of Tanzania has been advised to freeze CBK Currency Collection Account with immediate effect,’’ the statement read in part.

Source:nairobinews

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Meet Kenyan Beauties and Brains in the US: Vote now for Miss Kenya USA [PHOTOS]

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

Voting is now open for Miss Kenya USA pageant as the clock ticks towards the much awaited colorful gala event set to take place on July 6th 2019 in Renton, Washington.

The Miss Kenya USA Organization’s objective is to empower young Kenyan women here in the United States through engaging them in events and programs that will enhance their educational background as well as growth within the Diaspora through philanthropic work.

VISION

The pageant’s ultimate vision is to allow each young lady that is participating in the pageant to have an avenue where they can express themselves freely while exercising their goals towards development. It also hopes to mold these young women to be leaders of tomorrow, by helping them adapt to roles and programs that will utilize their skills to their maximum potential.

Remember you can vote for your contestants daily: YOU CAN VOTE HERE ANY TIME

The Pageant was the brainchild of Mr. Michael a.k.a “Frakaz” Bisonga, under the Frakaz Entertainment Group based in Houston, TX. The Pageant was always hosted in Houston over the Memorial Weekend in 2006 saw the first actual pageant take place.

“Our ultimate goal is to impact one girl child at a time that will in turn produce a ripple effect within our community of development and self sufficiency,” says the founder.

We hope to link each one of the contestants with an organization that is already working at social and/or developmental issues in Kenya as well as here in the USA; to further the purpose of their platforms. Lastly we shall encourage these young women to market and be the best goodwill ambassadors for Kenya in the Diaspora. These women shall execute but not limited to the following expectations:

  • Organization Ambassadors
  • Community Development and leadership
  • Good stewardship
  • Pageant Platform Driven
  • Accomplish set Goals
  • Share their success stories to motivate others

She adds.

YOU CAN VOTE HERE ANY TIME

Here are the beauties and their bios:

CAROLYNE NGANGA

My names are Carolyne Nganga. Currently, I am located in Washington DC and I am pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Nursing was and still is a career path I knew I wanted to pursue since I was 13 years old back in Kenya, because of financial constraints, I did not get a chance to pursue the career on completion of my high school education. Just to back up, I dropped out of high school due to lack of school fees and was out of school for 2 years. During this time, I got an opportunity to work as a waitress (at the age of 15) in a family owned restaurant in Nairobi. Right before
my 18th Birthday, I had enough savings to go back to high school and I proceeded. Working as a young teen exposed me to real struggles a lower class Kenyan face every day, struggles faced by young people due to lack of an Opportunity to pursue education and challenges of working teens. The experience built my character and thrust me towards desiring more not only to better my life but that of our community.

My platform, something I have yearned for a long period now is 1st education (every child matters, is my theme) 2nd is working towards curbing child-maternal mortality and lastly preventive care (teaching the community about all modifiable risk factors in an effort to reduce or better, prevent certain illness that have plagued our Community today for instance Hypertension, diabetes and stroke) I plan to use my skills in combination with high healthcare technology am exposed to here in the US to
instigate change in healthcare system in Kenya especially in rural areas.

My voluntary experiences include free clinics within the DC, Virginia and Maryland area, feeding the homeless in DC, support of several causes for instance runway for cure cancer awareness. I am excited to be part of this pageant because I believe the experience I will get will guide me into my Platforms.

CYNDEE MULINGE

YOU CAN VOTE HERE ANY TIME

My name is Cyndee Mulinge, and I was born in Kajiado and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. I am a graduate of Central Washington University with a Bachelor’s in Social Service and Psychology. Zealous in expressing my love for Kenyan culture while here in America, I work as an assistant for the African Print Takeover, a movement which brings African culture to the Northwest through fashion. Also, passionate to give back to the community, I regularly volunteer for various non-profit organizations such as Cry Out (an after-school program using music, dance, and creativity to empower youth to lead, pursue justice for themselves and others oppressed in their communities) and Mary’s Place, an organization which helps Seattle’s homeless by providing shelter.

I love giving back to my community! In continually doing so, I noticed a lack of follow through after organizations donate to children’s homes. How often does one check in after giving to see what else is needed? Thus, my Miss Kenya USA 2019 platform is charitable giving through Reach A Life Foundation. For the past year, I have partnered with the Nairobi-based “Reach A Life Foundation” to emphasize follow through by providing food, clothing, and tuition for orphans in various children’s homes. There is a sense of belonging when you know you have people who are looking out for you, who cares and supports you.  It is essential for us to show these orphanages that we are here, and willing to provide them with life’s basic needs and assist them with their major needs.

R.A.L.F has successfully provided support to 11 children’s homes, amongst them: A home specifically for children with disabilities, and another with children who are HIV+. My goal is to use my title as Miss Kenya USA 2019 to inspire my community, to further my education, and to aid R.A.L.F in expanding their reach to even more children homes in need. It would be an honor to be your Miss. Kenya USA 2019!

Do as well as you can, with what you have.

HELLEN KAMAU

Hellen Kamau is a Kenyan native who currently resides in Birmingham, AL. She is a graduate from Auburn University in Auburn, AL and an incoming student at Samford University’s, McWorter School of Pharmacy in Birmingham, AL. In addition to these studies, she is also getting her master’s degree in Public Health. Her heart is for her community and that is where she desires to begin touching lives.
The journey to achieve a doctorate degree will expand what she’s been longing for in improving her community and the future healthcare systems in Kenya. Giving back in the area of healthcare is the mountain she stands on.
She is also associated with other organizations such as the National African Student Association(NAFSA), BLAQK EMPIRE, and Off the Block Kids Athletics, which is based in Kenya. NAFSA educates and guides students by helping them make a smooth ransition to getting jobs, lowering student loans, and to tackling obstacles faced while progressing into the work field.
BLAQK EMPIRE’s core values are grounded on empathy, gratitude and ambition. It’s main goal is to empower each of us to be better, to love ourselves and others while changing each community at a time. And lastly, Off the Block Kids Athletics is an organization based in Kenya that she has had an opportunity to be an ambassador of for the past 3 years. This organization works to get children involved, active and healthy through athletics. She has helped raise funds that have allowed the children to enjoy activities such as track and field, and providing the proper equipment. Through this organization they have been able to educate young children about their health, eating habits, and how to take care of there bodies at an early age. This organization aides in keeping children out of the streets, while helping them achieve their dreams and allowing a safe and fun place for children to simply be children.
All of these organizations stand for pride, unity and love. This candidate defines her future and the future of her beloved country by simply being our best versions. Miss Kenya USA gives a push to magnify what’s been simplified.

WENDY ODUOR

Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change that you wish to see in the World”, a statement Wendy Oduor desires to embody in her generation.

As a fashionista, host and speaker, the recent graduate from Parsons School of Design in New York City believes that it is time to rise and champion the cause and solutions for mental health awareness.

Mental health remains a silent epidemic affecting millions of Kenyans. The lax mentality and approach as a nation towards mental health has instead oppressed those living with (knowing or unknowingly) and affected by various psychological diagnosis rather than leading them to a road of freedom and recovery.

After tragically losing her brother to suicide in 2014, Wendy, like many others, retrieved to silence. Wendy eventually understood that pain can birth purpose when allowed. This helped Wendy to begin sharing about her experience as a guest speaker at social events and utilizing social media to create awareness and a safe space where people break their silence and are encouraged to seek professional help. Wendy reaches over 100 people when hosting her weekly Mental Health Monday live on Instagram. In addition to creating awareness in the diaspora, Wendy also made it her mission to visit a mental health institution in Kenya to begin building relationships, understanding the logistics of the Kenyan health care system and gain first hand insight from Kenyan health professionals to see how to successfully combat Mental Health in Kenya, as a long term goal.

Wendy Oduor is embarking on the Miss Kenya USA pageant with a mission to promote mental health awareness across the diaspora and Kenya through education and action. This mission will entail dismantling countless generational errors in how Kenyans have dealt with matters affecting the mind, through constant conversations and teachings about mental health using but not limited to online platforms, schools, churches, and public events. The latter step which is about action, include result geared action plans put together by societal members alongside mental health care professionals to successfully guide individuals to their breakthroughs in the hopes to end the silent epidemic of mental health.

NEEMA NYAMBURA KIMARU

Age: 23 (soon to be 24)

Education: In 2017 I received my Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies and Marketing at Meredith College. Meredith is an all women’s liberal arts college in Raleigh, NC. After receiving my degree I traveled to work abroad in Asia for a year and a half as an English teacher! I have recently relocated back to the USA permanently and am currently working as a Communication Specialist in the Triangle Area.

Platform: Inclusion and Education for First Generation Kenyan American Youth

This cause is so near and dear to me because in so many ways it stems from how I have come to define myself and my own identity as a Kenyan American. I see a very great need in our diaspora community to include and educate our youth about where they come from. Especially as more and more Kenyans settle here in the States and have families, it’s apparent that their children are sometimes clueless about what it means to be Kenyan or even worse, they don’t care. Many don’t even know how to speak Kiswahili and definitely not their tribal language. I know this is an issue that has been prevalent in our communities for quite some time because I and my fellow Kenyan American peers were (and still are) this way!

Here is a little bit of background about me. I have always been proud to be a Kenyan and always maintained that I grew up in a true Kenyan home for the most part. Everything from the food we ate, the church we attended, and the family oriented priorities we held contributed to that. I was also very fortunate to grow up in an active Kenyan Community and to have traveled to Kenya often growing up. Through all of this I did learn a lot about Kenya historically, culturally, and also about my own families personal history. However, English is my first language and we always spoke English at home. My parents and extended family always struggled to try to teach me Kiswahili and Kikuyu. As I have gotten older I have taken it upon myself to learn. I still struggle to speak and overcome shyness of speaking, but I can understand about 50% while listening to a conversation so I have improved quite a bit! My goal this year is to become conversational by years end.

Many first generation children and young adults are in the same situation as me and it does make me very sad. Even though there is still a lot for me to learn, I am a big advocate for this cause and I feel that if we come together as a community we can find a way, many ways actually, to better include and educate our youth. Other nationalities have done wonders in this department so I am currently studying their methods. My dream is to operate a non profit dedicated to this cause! Should I win or place at all in the Miss Kenya USA pageant this year my winnings will go towards this endeavor.

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NBA Star Dirk Nowitzki and his Kenyan wife Begin Process of Becoming US Citizens

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Dirk Nowitzki and his wife Jessica Olsson have started the immigration process that will eventually have home become United States citizen, the just-retire NBA star recently said.

Speaking to Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki, a German citizen who played his entire 21-year NBA career for the Dallas Mavericks, says he and his wife Jessica are in the process of getting green cards, hoping to eventually become US citizens in five years.

“We’re in the process of getting a green card. So once we accomplish that, then you have to be a green-card holder for, I think, over five years before you can even think about doing that [becoming a U.S. citizen]. So we’re going to do that and see how it goes. But obviously our kids were born here and they all have U.S. passports and the wifey and I have been on a visa for the last few years,” Nowitzki told Dallas Morning News.

Nowitzki announced his retirement from playing professional basketball at the end of the 2019 season.

Jessica Olsson is a Swedish citizen – her dad is Swedish while her mother was born in Kenya. The two wed in Nanyuki, Kenya in 2012. They have three children.

Source: Mwakilishi.com

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