Court rejects illness of fugitive Jubilee Party tycoon on the run

Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Felix Kombo. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

Police have been ordered to investigate claims by billionaire Jubilee Party campaign financier wanted over Sh2.2 billion unpaid taxes that she is ill and is currently on bed rest on the advice of her doctors.

A Nairobi court ruled on Wednesday that the medical records produced to support Mary Wambui Mungai’s application to have warrant for her arrest lifted were questionable.

Ms Mungai’s lawyer had urged the court to lift the warrant because the businesswoman was on bed rest on the advice of doctors at Kiambu Level Five Hospital.

Her daughter Purity Njoki, who is also facing tax evasion charges, was the caregiver, said the lawyer.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has reportedly issued an alert to seal the border points, including Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), to prevent the businesswoman from leaving the country after she skipped court to answer to charges of failing to pay taxes between 2014 and last year.

Ms Mungai and her daughter are both facing charges related to unpaid taxes to the KRA through a company known as Purma Holdings.

The businesswoman, a member of the Friends of Jubilee Foundation lobby which raised millions of shillings for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election campaign in 2017 in two hours, was first summoned by the KRA in June, along with her daughters to shed light on the alleged unpaid taxes.

She did not appear and also failed to honour summons on December 3.

According to the lawyer, Ms Mungai sought medical attention at the Kiambu Level Five Hospital on December 4 after she failed to get a doctor from the Nairobi Hospital

“Ms Mungai is currently unwell and bedridden. She was attended to at Kiambu Level Five hospital on December 4 and was given five days bed rest,” the lawyer stated.

He urged the court to lift the warrant, saying his client was willing and ready to attend court on December 14 to answer to the charges.

But Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Felix Kombo declined the request and directed police to investigate the authenticity of her medical documents.

“The court is unable to believe that she was admitted to Nairobi Hospital. Documents presented to court shows that she sought medical attention on December 4, 2021 at Kiambu Level 5 Hospital where she got five days of rest. These were two days before the summons were presented in court,” said the magistrate.

The magistrate also asked why the medical records were not made available to court on Monday before the warrant of arrest was issued.

“The only conclusion that can be made is that these documents, if the claims are true, were available on December 6, 2021. The question that emerges is why they were not presented to court,” he stated.

“I have noted that there is a clear lack of honesty on the second and third accused [Ms Mungai and Ms Njoki]. The documents presented to court cannot be believed and even if they were to be believed, they do not render a picture of what is preventing them (accused persons) from attending court.”

Ms Mungai is being pursued over alleged unpaid taxes for supplying boots, uniforms and cereals to the military, among other government departments. She has also been listed among persons who supplied Kemsa KN95 face masks and surgical face masks for a tender worth Sh30.5 million.

Ms Mungai also fought the warrant on grounds that she is no longer a director of the company, which is alleged to have evaded paying taxes. The lawyer said Ms Mungai ceased being a director as from August 2019.

“They are not fugitives of justice and they also want justice. We urge you to lift the warrants and give them a chance to get medication,” said the advocate.

But the magistrate found that the accused persons were aware of the summons as they actually responded to it by sending a proxy and even filed an application at the High Court over the same.

Yesterday’s ruling means the businesswoman and her daughter remain fugitives. The court restated that they must voluntarily present themselves to court or be tracked down by police and arraigned.

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