Ambitious Multi-Billionaire That Moi’s Betrayal Condemned to Poverty

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  • At the age of 36, Mugo Mungai, a London-trained economist, was riding high above his peers with a slew of properties spread across the country.

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    Having worked in various capacities in firms across the country, Mungai called it quits in 1975, to start his own business and registered Mungai and Associates auditing and accounting firm.

    Reports from the Daily Nation on November 26, 2016, indicate that through this business, Mungai registered the banks at a time when the Nairobi scene was dominated by European banks in effect earning many African customers.

    Mugo Mungai at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on September 29, 2016.
    Mugo Mungai at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on September 29, 2016.

    In less than ten years, Mugo had started the Pioneer Building Society and Capital Finance Limited, which owned prime properties in the city, including the Capital House in the city center, 259 maisonettes in Pioneer Estate, and 50 half-acre plots in the up-market Gigiri, near Unep and the US Embassy.

    In 1986, however, his ambitions put him in the wrong books after he went to Uganda to expand his business at a time when President Yoweri Museveni had toppled General Tito Okello.

    His return to the country was met with suspicion, with the Moi government reported to have started a crackdown due to the paranoia associated with the failed coup attempt in 1982.

    While he was released at the time, the Registrar of Building Societies, Joseph King’arui, wrote a one-page memo in November 1986, that led to the closing of his two major start-ups Pioneer Building Society and Capital Finance Limited, without any explanations.

    At the time, it is reported that he had fixed deposits at various banks with about Ksh30 million and miscellaneous investments worth Ksh145 million, with his advances and loans totalling Ksh160 million.

    Having been a keen contributor in Moi’s regime and having connections with the top organs in power, Mungai is reported to have approached Moi to have his assets, estimated at Ksh7 billion now, restored by the courts.

    “I went to Kabarak one morning in 2000 to see President Moi who knew me. I used to go to State House often to take donations to him, just like everybody else in those days. We talked diplomatically and I told him I needed his help. He promised me that he would sort out the matter and I gave him some written facts on my banks and properties,” Mugo was quoted.

    Outgoing president Daniel Moi hands over the instruments of power to incoming Mwai Kibaki at Uhuru Park on December 30, 2002.
    Outgoing president Daniel Moi hands over the instruments of power to incoming Mwai Kibaki at Uhuru Park on December 30, 2002.

    His forays reportedly angered Richard Leakey, then the head of civil service and secretary to the Cabinet, who warned Mungai against taking issues to the president but instead take it up with the receiver of his properties.

    Despite the warnings, he narrated that he visited Moi over and over again, including in the early 2000s, till, according to him, Moi showed signs that he would end his misery once and for all.

    “Moi left his office and escorted me up to the public car park. I got the impression that he would indeed help me recover my properties. But I was wrong. Seven months later, I saw him on television handing over power to Mwai Kibaki.

    “I was destroyed. At first, I thought I knew important people. But when I went down, they all disappeared,” he told the Daily Nation in 2016.

    As of 2016, Mugo was still in court fighting to regain property he lost in November 1986, while at the same time working as an accountant in a dingy Nairobi office.

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