John Harun Mwau: The Richest Man In Ukambani Whose Life Is Shrouded In Mystery

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John Harun Mwau: The Richest Man In Ukambani Whose Life Is Shrouded In Mystery
Billionaire John Harun Mwau Photo/Courtesy

By Prudence Minayo

John Harun Mwau (Born in 1948) is politician and businessman. He served as Kilome Member of Parliament and was also the first director of the now defunct Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Authority. His stint at the Anti Corruption Commission Authority was short lived after he was declared unfit to hold the office. In 2011, US president Barack Obama linked him to drug trafficking by putting him in the drug kingpin list. His assets, worth millions of dollars, were frozen as a result. Following these allegations by the US, he expressed fears for his life. The businessman asked for protection against being captured, shot and buried in the deep sea by US snipers. 

Mr. Mwau was among the MPs named by the late Interior CS George Saitoti for allegedly being drug barons. The three others were ex-Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, ex-Kiambu governor William Kabogo and current Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho. Over the years, several authors have been sued for linking him to drug trafficking. The former Kilome MP maintains he is not involved in narcotics trafficking. 

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Background 

Harun Mwau grew up in Kilungu, in Kaitu Makueni county. He told the Nation that they were very poor and affording a meal was by sheer luck. 

“Our house was a shack. I had no room to sleep in. In the cattle shed where I used to sleep I was so used to the animals that when they were not there I always felt cold,” he was quoted by Nation.

Mwau dropped out of school and in 1968 joined the police force. At Kiganjo Police College, he discovered his impressive marksmanship skills becoming one of the best sharpshooters Kenya has ever produced. 

Career 

Prior to amassing his political and business portfolio, he was a police officer then a sports shooter, competing at the 1968 and 1972 summer Olympics. In 1968, he competed as a rifle shooter while in 1972, he competed as a pistol shooter. 

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As a politician, Mwau founded and chaired the Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya (PICK). He ran for the country’s top most office in 1992 and managed to garner over 10,000 votes. Unimpressed with the results, he moved to the high court wanting to be declared the only candidate that was nominated validly. The case was dismissed. 

In the 2013 general elections, he vied for the Makueni senatorial seat and lost to Mutula Kilonzo who gathered 193,539 votes against his 51,162 votes. Following the death of Mutula Kilonzo, he ran against five candidates. He was once again defeated by Mutula Kilonzo Jr. who garnered 163, 232 votes against his 6,431 votes. 

Also Read: The Richest People In Ukambani And Businesses They Own

Business 

An article by Forbes, reported that he was a shareholder at Nakumatt and in 2016 sold his 7.7% stake for a reported sum of $10 million. The businessman did not comment on these reports. 

According to Olympics.com, he amassed his vast wealth from the companies he was a director. These companies are:

  • Vitu Ltd 
  • Tom Brown Ltd 
  • Kuston Kenya Ltd 
  • JN Records Ltd 
  • Pepe Enterprises Limited 
  • Harun International Limited 
  • Africa Center for Hope Initiative Everywhere 

Alleged Drug Trafficking 

Harun Mwau was accused by the United States government in 2011 for being among the narcotics kingpin in Kenya. The Department of the Foreign Assets Office of the US Department Treasury referred to him as the most powerful and active narcotics traffickers in the region. He denied these allegations saying it was just a ploy to cut him out of his businesses worth over $750 million. 

These allegations were never proved by the US or local authorities. 

Suits 

When it comes to suing those trying to tarnish his name, Harun Mwau does not mess around. 

In 2005, he filed several suits. One was against Nation for linking him to tax evasion allegations. He filed other suits against editors and top executives wanting the media to be irrevocably stopped from printing materials  linking him to drug trafficking. 

In 2011, he filed a case against Michael Ranneberger, the US States ambassador, for linking him to narcotics trafficking. Michael had also stated that the list of corrupt individuals in Kenya would not be complete without Mwau. 

In 2013, a student alleged on a post on Facebook that Mwau was involved in the death of George Saitoti. The student was sued. 

In 2014 and 2016, he sued three other authors who associated him with drug trafficking. One referred to him as a drug kingpin and two linked him to the Colombian drug cartel. 

In June 2020, he sued two authors claiming damages for defamation over a research piece which has been launched by Global Initiative against Transnational Organization Crime (GI-TOC). He wanted a retraction and an apology. The former MP said the piece linked him to drug trafficking.

One of his historic suits was against Kenya’s late retired president Moi and the government. His passport had been seized accusing him of getting involved in subversive activities. The passport was returned. 

Alleged Murder Plot 

In June 2011, it was reported that his car had been shot at by unknown gunmen. His range rover was en-route to Intercontinental Hotel when the incident happened. The Standard reported that detectives said the shooting was staged. Mwau was not in the car and nobody was injured. Later, the police commissioner said the driver and bodyguard would be charged for giving false information to the police.

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