A report released in 2021 by Knight Frank estimated that Kenya has 42 billionaires, placing the country at position four in Africa. Being rich is a dream many Kenyans harbor but it remains just that-a dream.
Billionaire Francis Mburu had it all-or so it seemed-before a string of bad decisions, extortionist politicians and hanger-ons brought him down. The Standard newspaper, in an article titled Broke billionaire: Francis Mburu milked by politicians, shylocks and sidekicks, gave a blow by blow account of how the billionaire ended up broke.
Here is his story of the billionaire who now lives hand to mouth as told by WoK.
Who is Francis Mburu?
Billionaire Francis Mburu is a renowned Nairobi businessman who heavily invested in real estate. The 73 year old billionaire who loves to live a private but flamboyant lifestyle is said to be behind around 50 companies.
Infact before the Ruaraka land saga, which he was heavily involved in court battles, very few Kenyans could pick him from a crowd of three.
How he acquired his wealth and journey to the billionaire rank
Most of Mburu’s fortunes came from the 96 acre piece of land he bought in December 30th 1981 from Israeli owned Joreth Limited when he was just 31 years old.
Through his companies – Huelands Limited, Import Limited and Afrison Export, he paid Ksh 14 million for the Ruaraka land.
He later used the title deed of the land to get a Ksh 21 million loan from Continental Credit Finance in order to build 600 houses for the now defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunication (KPTC).
Unfortunately Continental Credit Finance Collapsed and was put under receivership, this made KPTC secure a second mortgage worth Ksh 165 million using the title deed in order to complete the houses. The project didn’t come to completion with only 196 houses being built out of the 600 estimated houses.
The houses were taken by the General Service Unit (GSU) who then grabbed 30 acres of the same piece of land. 30 years later, Mburu went to court and was awarded Ksh 9.8 billion for the land and Ksh 1.5 billion as the case costs.
Mburu didn’t stop there, in 2018 through his lawyer Apollo Mboya, he went to court to claim a Ksh 10 billion land known as Chakama ranch situated in Kilifi County.
Through his company New Agricultural Limited, the billionaire claims that he owns the land L.R No. 13472/3/4 that is currently occupied by Squatters. The matter is still in court awaiting its final ruling later this year.
From being a billionaire to Poverty
In a report released by The Nairobian in 2020, billionaire Mburu’s aides revealed that he was struggling to pay Ksh 500,000 monthly rent for his house situated in Karen Nairobi. All the GSU officers who used to man his home and were his bodyguards left since he could not afford to pay for their services.
“The only employee left is his long serving driver. The man has lately been living hand to mouth and all his business associates, including politicians, no longer pick his calls. Things are so bad that he is even thinking of going to live with his sons,” revealed a close friend as reported by The Standard.
But where and how did the billions disappear?
The tabloid contacted Mburu to give his side of the story but he declined to comment on the issue. An aide who worked for him for years revealed that his financial doldrums were as a result of living an extravagant lifestyle and politicians keen to extort as much as they could from him.
“Mburu doesn’t gamble. The last time he gambled was 1996. It is just living a soft life. It’s sad to see the old man suffer. He had a good heart but spent all his money on people,” a confidante told the Nairobian.
The man never drinks alcohol but would cater for bills amounting up to Ksh 250,000 per night for his friends, many of them politicians and business associates. He would play pool with each game pegged at Ksh 50,000 and he would lose about 20 games in a single night.
Mburu would give out Ksh 5 million to his friends with the ease of dishing out coins to a street beggar.
The aide revealed that even before Mburu secured the Ruaraka land billions, he had promised so many people money.
When he got the last Ksh 2.4 billion payment of the Ksh 9.8 billion awarded by the court for the Ruaraka land, he paid out Ksh 400 million, Ksh 300 million and Ksh 100 million to several senior government officers.
“One day, a politician who is now a governor stormed into Mburu’s office with thugs, threatened the old man and walked out with Ksh 30 million,” revealed one of his close business associates who witnessed the extortion as reported by the standard.
Apart from losing the money to people, the billionaire lived a totally extravagant lifestyle. By mid-2018 Mburu had 12 brand new Land cruisers at his Karen home.
The cheapest one was worth Ksh 10 million. He traveled in three land cruisers, the first and last one ferrying his security detail while he used the middle car. Currently, he only owns one Land cruiser vehicle at his Karen residence.
“All those vehicles have either been used as collateral for shylocks, and others sold off. The old man is now left with one Land Cruiser. Things are really tough, but Mburu is a tough man, he will find another way to make a fortune,” revealed one of his close buddies.