Njenga Karume Wealth: The late Njenga Karume was without doubt a shrewd businessman. His wealth was in the billions.
At the time of his death five years ago, his wealth portfolio was estimated to be Sh. 40 billion. It included a chain of high-end hotels, real estate, coffee and tea plantations, manufacturing, shares in blue-chip companies – and whatever else we don’t know. Karume had put his wealth under three holding companies to be managed by the Njenga Karume Trust, whose trustees have been tussling with his kin on the management of the estate.
Since his death, though, his business empire has been facing collapse due to the huge debts that the billionaire politician left behind.
“When we look at the debt portfolio, we are thinking about Sh. 2.5 billion. That’s about 15 per cent of the value of the estate. That includes the value we owe KRA net all remissions we might get, banks, creditors and contractors over the past five years,” says George Ngugi Waireri, one of the trustees of Mr. Karume’s empire.
In fact, some of his properties have been earmarked for sale to settle some of these debts. The properties to be sold have included part of the 140-acre Kacharoba Tea Estate, Village Inn Hotel in Kiambu, 25 acres in Elementaita and seven acres in Muchatha, Kiambu County.
In July 2019, Karume’s Jacaranda Hotel was put up for auction over a debt of Sh. 257.6 million. The hotel is situated in Westlands, Nairobi.
The auction notice comes after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) last year lined up auctioneers to recover value added tax (VAT) and Pay as You Earn (PAYE) arrears amounting to Sh. 153 million owed by the hotel. The taxman issued the Jacaranda Hotels Limited with an enforcement notice on January 12, 2018, seeking immediate payment of tax arrears amounting to Sh197 million and on the same day moved to secure goods at the hotel in Westlands, Nairobi, to recover the tax. The matter was settled after KRA agreed to a repayment plan of Sh. 50 million monthly installments and a payoff of Sh. 7.9 million to auctioneers who had already secured the hotel’s property to recover the tax.