By Prudence Minayo
Mary Wambui Mungai is a Kenyan businesswoman who has gained notoriety for playing cat and mouse with the Kenya Revenue Authority in an attempt to evade arrest over allegations of failing to pay taxes. She was a financier of Jubilee Administration during the 2017 general elections that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected.
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She was born on 12th December 1963. She was brought up in a humble background in the remote village of Gachika, Gatundu South where her parents live to date.
Career and Wealth
On 26th March 1999, she was among the candidates who passed the Government Proficiency Examination for clerical officers. She then began working at the Ministry of Health.
She grew her wealth and years later became an influential businesswoman. Her political connections also grew which enabled her to win a number of big tenders including two tenders in June last year:
- A Sh90 million tender to supply Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) with personal protective equipment through her company, Purma Holdings.
- A Sh30.5 million tender to supply KN95 respirator face masks and three-ply ear-loop surgical masks.
She supplied the military with cereals, uniforms and boots and items to other state departments.
Mary Wambui Mungai was appointed to sit on the board of Kenyatta National Hospital but the appointment was later revoked.
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Mary is a mother to, Evelyn Nyambura Mungai and Purity Njoki Mungai who are also directors in her company. The two obtained court orders on 5th July to overturn an arrest warrant issued against them. An affidavit filed by the two argued that their mother enrolled them as directors of Purma Holdings and KRA should, therefore, pursue their mother. Purma Holdings is the company accused of tax evasion.
Tax Evasion charges
Kenya Revenue Authority alleged that Mary owes Sh2.2 billion in unpaid tax arrears since 2014. She skipped court on Monday prompting detectives to launch a manhunt for the billionaire businesswoman. She had been in June by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) so as to shed some light on the tax evasion claims but failed to show up. She also failed to show up upon being summoned by the Kenya Revenue Authority last week.
It is indicated by court documents that she is facing eight counts of tax evasion at the anti-corruption court in Milimani. Kenya Revenue Authority issued an alert to seal all airports and border points to prevent her from leaving the country. This was due to her decision to skip court and failure to pay accrued taxes between 2014 and last year. An arrest warrant had also been issued for her.
On Wednesday, December 8th 2021, a Nairobi court asked police to investigate Ms. Wambui’s claim that she was ill. Appearing before the court on Wednesday, the businesswoman said she had been ill for sometime and her doctors had advised her to take bed rest. She appealed to the court to lift the arrest warrant and allow her to recover from her illness before presenting herself to court.
Mary presented herself to court with her daughter accompanied by their lawyer Nelson Havi.
Released on cash bail
Mary Wambui and her daughter Purity Njeri were released on kes50 million cash bail. They were also directed by the Anti-Corruption Magistrate Felix Kombo to surrender their travel documents in court.
“They will not travel out of Kenya. This order shall be served on the immigration department,” the magistrate ruled.
Her investments include apartments in Thindigua, an upcoming hotel on Northern Bypass and land. She has an imposing mansion in Runda and drives high end vehicles. Her taste for fine wine is legendary. Prior to getting in trouble with KRA, she had sponsored a gold tournament at Kiambu Golf Club.
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