Inside Politics

Wambui: Fugitive woman is a billionaire Jubilee operative

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021 08:45 | By
Mary Wambui Mungai. PHOTO/File

During her heyday, shadowy businesswoman Mary Wambui would spend hours on end at a popular establishment on Kiambu Road entertaining the who’s who in society.

On such occasions, Wambui, who is currently a fugitive with a warrant out for her arrest, would be in the company of top government officials and Jubilee honchos, including a one-time powerful Cabinet Secretary from the Rift Valley region and a Principal Secretary from the Mt Kenya region.

Fondly referred to as Wambui wa Ruto in political circles thanks to her close association with Deputy President William Ruto especially at the height of the 2013 and the 2017 election campaigns, the one-time clerical officer at the Ministry of Health would enjoy State protection, complete with chase cars fitted with sirens to clear the road, as she coordinated the ruling party’s campaigns.

Those days appear in the distant past as Wambui battles multiple cases in the courts and police investigations, ranging from tax evasion to acquiring tenders running into billions of shillings fraudulently.

In the latest case, an anti-corruption court has issued a warrant of arrest for the tenderpreneur and her daughter, Purity, who are being sought for failing to appear in court over a case in which they are accused of failing to pay taxes amounting to Sh2.2 billion.

Chief Magistrate Felix Mutinda Kombo on Monday ordered the police to track down the two and arraign them over contempt of court after they failed to honour court summons.

Wambui, who police believe could have fled the country to defeat justice, her daughter and their company Purma Holdings are to be charged that on or before June 30, 2015, knowingly and unlawfully omitted from the company’s income tax returns totalling Sh2,231,789,125.

The charge sheet further states that on or before 30th June 2016, they omitted from the company’s income tax returns, Sh352,146,569 for the year of income 2015, on or before 30th June 2017, omitted income tax returns of Sh833, 638,080 for the year of income 2016 and on or before 30th June 2018 omitted Sh147,205,398 for 2018.

“It is therefore ordered that officers ensure that they arrest the duo and arraign them in this court,” the magistrate said, triggering the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to deploy a multi-agency unit at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and all border points to track down the fugitives

Detectives also state that Nightingale Enterprises Limited (NEL), another company associated with her, submitted forged and unauthenticated documents including Equity Bank statements and fake construction work experience in order to win a Sh665 million tender for construction of the multi-storey building for the National Assembly.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has recommended that she, together with her accomplices be charged with conspiracy to defraud and fraudulent acquisition of public property among other charges.

Immense influence

Born and brought up at Gachinja in Gatundu South in Kiambu County, those who know Wambui describe her as a shrewd wheeler-dealer who ventured into the tendering business long before the Jubilee government came to power.

But her breakthrough came when she started hobnobbing with Jubilee operatives in the run-up to the 2013 General Election.

Today, Wambui is the owner of a Sh250 million, five-bedroomed maisonette sitting on a one-acre piece of land in the upmarket Runda estate.

Besides the house, Wambui is also said to own several high-end apartments as well as a multi-storied hotel under construction on the northern by-pass.
Wambui is easy to pick out in a crowd as she is always in short hair and free flowing kitenge dresses or jeans trousers.

Her immense influence in the corridors of power was aptly captured by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho when he appeared before the National Assembly Committee on security to shed light on the government decision to replace the security detail assigned to Ruto.

Speaking during the session, Matiang’i shocked the country when he claimed that some of the officers attached to the DP were being allocated duties to protect his (Ruto) associates including Wambui, Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi and his Malindi counterpart Aisha Jumwa.

In the run-up to the last two presidential elections, Wambui featured prominently in the cabal of wealthy individuals from the Mt Kenya region who raised funds for Jubilee’s re-election.

The group would routinely gather at the Windsor Golf and Country Club to strategise and raise the funds under the Mt Kenya Foundation banner.

During the 2017 elections, Wambui, according to multiple interviews, was instrumental in cobbling together the “United for Kiambu” team, a group of wealthy operatives from Kiambu County that campaigned for Ferdinand Waititu’s election as governor.

Golf tournament

The sources say Waititu and his team would design the campaign strategies and forward the bills to Wambui.

Once the job was done, Wambui would organise payments directly to the suppliers and service providers in an election said to have gobbled up millions of shilling to match former Governor William Kabogo’s equally well-oiled campaign.

Given the proximity to her Runda residence, Wambui, said to be in her early 50s, is known to patronise entertainment spots on Kiambu Road.

She is also a regular guest at Muthaiga and Kiambu Golf Clubs and is this Friday scheduled to sponsor a golf tournament at the latter where she is referred to as “Senior Lady Captain Mary Wambui.”

“She is not known to have any serious professional background. She has been doing business but she shot to prominence when the Jubilee government came to power,” said a source who frequently rubs shoulders with Wambui.

In July this year, Purity and her sister, Everlyne accused their mother, Wambui, of using their names to do business with Purma Holdings, which is a major supplier of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) uniforms.

“The second and third respondents (Nyambura and Njoki) had been put as minority shareholders and directors at the incorporation of the company by the first applicant (Wambui), their mother, without their consent, having been minors and in school,” their attorney, Walubengo Waningilo stated.

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