Billionaire fugitive smoked out of Ruto’s Weston Hotel Headings
Shadowy businesswoman Mary Wambui and her daughter Purity Njoki took cover at the Weston Hotel, Nairobi, owned by Deputy President William Ruto, as they hid from detectives who were on their trail for skipping court over tax evasion, it has emerged.
Mother and daughter, who were wanted for defrauding the taxpayer Sh2.2 billion through tax evasion, surrendered themselves before the Anti-Corruption Court yesterday, hours after detectives stormed the four-star hotel on Lang’ata road, after receiving intelligence that they were holed up there.
Yesterday, prosecutors told the anti-corruption court how they raided the hotel only to find the two fugitives had fled, perhaps after being tipped off about the impending raid.
The prosecution further told the court that the duo, who had been checked into rooms A301, A302 and B302, were planning to flee the country to Zambia based on the travel documents they recovered from the hotel.
“On December 8 I received intelligence information that the accused persons were at Weston Hotel room numbers A301, A302 and B302. I visited the hotel rooms but found that the accused had escaped and left behind their personal belongings with a black handbag in room number B302,” said investigating officer Amina Ado, in an affidavit filed in court opposing their release on bond.
Chief Magistrate Felix Mutinda Kombo had on Monday ordered police to ensure they track down Wambui and her daughter and arraign them after they failed to honour court summons.
Detectives were forced to circulate information to all the country’s outlets and police stations and airlines to have the two arrested.
It also emerged that neither Wambui nor her daughter Purity’s names appear in the hotel’s records, perhaps to avoid undue attention.
“From the records maintained at the reception of Weston Hotel, the second accused person (Wambui) and the 3rd accused (Purity) are not listed as guests on December 8 despite their personal belongings being found at the premises”.
According to Amina, who is attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, detectives recovered bank cards, original Identification Cards, temporary permit for the republic of Zambia valid from July 27, 2021 to January 27, 2022, a firearms license among other personal effects belonging to Wambui, who together with Purity are directors of Purma Holdings, which has been doing business with government.
Yesterday, they were charged that on or before June 30, 2015, being a limited liability company registered as a taxpayer under KRA PIN P051121273L and its directors, knowingly and unlawfully omitted from the company’s income tax returns Sh2,231,789,125 for the year of income 2014.
Further, on or before June 30, 2016 they omitted from the company’s income tax returns, Sh352,146,569 for the year of income 2015, on or before June 30, 2017, omitted income tax returns, Sh833,638,080 for the year of income 2016 and on or before June 30, 2018 omitted Sh147,205,398 for 2018.
They denied the charges and were ordered to deposit a cash bail of Sh25 million each or a bond of Sh50 million each pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
They were also ordered to deposit their Kenyan and foreign travel documents with the court, refrain from contacting witnesses and cooperate with investigators.
State Counsel Judy Thuguri opposed their application to be released on bail, saying they are a flight risk.
She further argued that their previous behaviour betrayed their trust, an argument the court seemed to share but nevertheless freed them. “The first thing to note is that the conduct of the accused in this matter as demonstrated during investigations was well below bar and must be condemned. This court did find in this ruling that they were dishonest and appeared to be more intent on employing tactics to stall or delay the matter,” the court ruled.
On Tuesday, Wambui, through her lawyer South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro, told the court that she was unable to honour court summons due to poor health.
“On December 7, 2021 efforts were made to trace the 2nd accused persons, who was allegedly admitted at the Nairobi Hospital since November 29 and the 3rd accused, who was allegedly her caregiver but the same were futile since the hospital could not disclose such information without a court order,” the affidavit.
It added: “On December 8 the matter was mentioned in court for purpose of lifting the warrant of arrest and the court was informed by the Counsel of the accused person that the 2nd accused was admitted at Kiambu Level Five Hospital on December 4, information that was not satisfactory as it contradicted the information earlier provided.”
The officers from a multi-agency team had also laid an ambush at their residence located at Mimosa Grove road in the upmarket Runda estate.
Police said they had been trying to track the two using their mobile phone numbers but they were unsuccessful because they had curtailed any form of communication by switching off their phones.
Their efforts to get assistance from Safaricom did not yield fruits either.