Top politician assisted Wambui escape dragnet
Nancy Gitonga and Eric Wainaina
Shadowy businesswoman Mary Wambui, who has been on the radar of detectives over a litany of criminal related allegations, was yesterday paraded in court for a second time in as many months, this time to answer to charges of illegally being in possession of firearms and 22 bullets for close to two years.
The move came as details emerged of how a senior government official, on December 7, 2021 night helped her sneak out of the Deputy President William Ruto-owned Weston Hotel where she had gone to hide to evade police who were pursuing her and her daughter Purity Njoki for allegedly defrauding the taxpayer Sh2.2 billion through tax evasion.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives, who had launched her manhunt stormed the hotel where the fugitive and her daughter had been booked but the duo got wind of the pursuit and sneaked out leaving behind her handbag in her room number B302. Police found a firearm certificate that had expired on April 17, 2020, which is what led to her arraignment yesterday.
Wambui, an ally of the Deputy President, spent the night at Muthaiga Police Station after being arrested on Wednesday, and is accused of being in possession of the said firearm on diverse dates between April 17, 2020 and December 15, 2021 as well as being found with 22, 9.9 ammunition without a valid certificate on diverse dates.
Her lawyers LSK president Nelson Havi and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, both allies of the DP, requested the court to release her on favourable bond terms saying the two offences are misdemeanours.
She was released on a cash bail of Sh50,000 or a bond of Sh100,000 pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Fondly referred to as “Wambui wa Ruto” in social and political circles because of her association with the second in command, Wambui and her daughter had been informally booked in rooms A301, A302 and B302 but when they learnt that police were closing in, they allegedly sneaked out of her room and went to one of the upper floors in the hotel where the top government official was presiding over a fundraiser in the company of some MPs that evening, and informed him of the development.
The official, according to one of the investigators in Wambui’s case, organised for her to be taken to his waiting official car, and after the fundraiser was over, he joined her and they were driven out to an unknown destination.
“Police found she had already escaped and left behind their personal belongings with a black handbag in room number B 302.
Inside the handbag, she found bank cards, original Identification Cards, temporary permit for the Republic of Zambia valid from July 27, 2021 to January 27, 2022, firearms licence which we found to have already expired,” a detective privy to the probe revealed yesterday.
Investigators also established that Wambui had lied to officers at the Firearm Licensing Board that she had her license and on February 10, 2021 he had applied for a replacement yet she was still in possession of her original one that had expired in April 2020.
After getting hold of the expired license, the detectives kicked off investigations and on December 15, 2021, they ordered her to surrender her firearm to police, just a day after the Firearms Licensing Board (FLB) warned that she was illegally in possession of that firearm.
Wambui, handed over the semi-automatic pistol, CZ75 Compact, to officers at the Runda police station who are expected to forward it to the Board which had warned that it was an offense under section 11(4) of the Firearms Act to fail to comply with a demand to surrender the weapon.
Just a day after they escaped the detectives’ dragnet, Wambui and her daughter presented themselves before Anti-Corruption Magistrate Felix Kombo, the latter claiming that she had been taken ill and admitted in hospital but police said their probe proved that it was a lie.
The accused persons are facing eight counts related to failure to pay taxes amounting to Sh2.5 billion accrued by their company, Purma Holdings.
They were charged on or before 30th June 2015 after directors of Purma Holdings registered as a taxpayer under KRA PIN P051121273L and its directors unlawfully failed to pay tax returns Sh2, 231,789,125 in 2014.
Further, 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, Sh833, 638,080 for the year of income 2016 and on or before 30th June 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, and to also deposit their Kenyan and foreign travel documents with the court, refrain from contacting witnesses and cooperate with investigators.
She is also wanted because her Nightigale Enterprises Limited (NEL) which has also been fingered by County Assembly of Kiambu’s Public Accounts and Investment Committee over questionable tender dealings with the Governor James Nyoro-led administration, the DCI detectives say, 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 Kenya National Assembly in a scam that involved Wambui, state and Equity bank officials.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has recommended that she, together with other accomplices, be paraded in court to answer to charges of conspiracy to defraud and fraudulent acquisition of public property among other charges and the filed file has been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecution for approval.