Inside Ruto ’s vast multibillion empire

Inside Ruto ’s vast multibillion empire

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In different circumstances, he would be the inspiration posterboy of how one can rise from the dust to the clouds. However, unlike other Kenyan billionaires who inherited their wealth from their parents, or who can attempt to credibly show how they grew financially shilling by shilling,  thousand by thousand, million by million, billion by billion, DP William Ruto seems to have had a shorter route to billions.

Not that there is anything wrong with that so long as one can prove that he never strayed from the straight and the narrow. Unfortunately for Ruto, he is not enjoying the benefit of admiration of Kenyans to his sensational trajectory that saw him, in less than two decades, move from being pooped on his eyes by chicken as he brandished them to potential buyers aboard buses and lorries to enviable opulence that includes helicopters, kingly houses and princely hotels to name just three.

No wonder Ruto’s rags to riches story is now being grabbed by his foes to try to discredit the government he serves as number two, with.

Former prime minister Raila Odinga has compiled a list of Ruto’s properties that the opposition is likely to use during the campaigns alleging that the DP has mortgaged the Kalenjin community to acquire wealth as majority of them continue to suffer and languish in poverty, more so, farmers. It is instructive to note that Ruto was the Agriculture minister in the grand coalition government of Mwai Kibaki and Raila. Raila has been questioning the source millions of shillings Ruto has been dishing out in harambees across the country weekly.

The DP, however, insists that he has worked for his multibillion business empire dating back to the old days when he did odd jobs like selling chicken and its eggs along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway. His political detractors have maintained that he has earned his wealth through dubious deals going by the scandals attached to his name. Today, the DP is said to own a Hublot Bigbang wrist watch on his hand that costs an estimated Sh2.6 million.

He also runs offshore bank accounts that he uses to transact lucrative business with foreigners of Chinese and Asian origin.

Ruto’s blessings have become a political campaign tool against him to the extent that ODM leader Raila has been labeling him the “High Priest of Corruption” even as Ruto counterbaptises Raila “Lord of Poverty” owing to the wretchedness of Raila’s followers. Although his name has appeared in all major scandals, the DP claims he is a hustler who has worked overtime to make his money.

This week, we lay bare the wealth the DP has accumulated since he joined politics at a tender age.

We have established that in less than four years, the DP has acquired five choppers and a number of luxurious state-of-art vehicles. The joke within the political circles is that the DP acquired a chain of choppers after Senator Gideon Moi chided him during the burial of late Joseph Kamotho to the effect that his father former president Daniel Moi had told him to use bicycle  to deliver his condolences. Gideon flew to the funeral in a chopper while Ruto used the road. Our investigations reveal that between 2015 and 2016, the DP had acquired three choppers registration 5Y-DSM-AS-350-B3 Airbus helicopter costing Sh230m. The DP has also bought a FY-DSM-AS-350-B3 costing Sh300m and another 5Y-DSP-EC-130-B4 costing Sh350m. This is a new brand of helicopter only of its kind in East and Central Africa. It can only be found in South Africa.

He has also ordered for an EC-140 a dual engine and it is said to still be with the manufacturers and will soon be delivered. Down payment was made in December 2016 and costs Sh0.5billion.

It is being whispered within opposition corridors that the purchase of the choppers was done through his business dealings with Zakhem Construction Company which is involved in the construction of Kenya Pipeline.

The choppers are operating under the licence of a firm associated with an Italian investor formerly a rally driver, Marco Brighetti.

The Italian has also invested in Naivasha so when choppers are not parked at Wilson Airport, they are parked at his expansive Naivasha farm.

We have information that the DP is now plotting with foreign investors on how to buy the trouble-ridden Chase Bank. By acquiring a bank, the DP wants to play in the same league with other prominent Kenyans in the  financial sector business.

Kenyatta family owns the Commercial Bank of Africa, Moi family owns Trans National Bank, Nyachae family has the Credit Bank with the Kibaki family once linked to Finance Bank.

Ruto who has interest in the hospitality industry and is said to be investing heavily in the hotel sector. It began with the controversial Weston Hotel opposite Wilson Airport.

Sources say before the 2013 general elections, the DP had wanted to sell Weston Hotel. This was after he had been dropped from the cabinet and ICC was on his neck. It was during this time that his financial fortune was dwindling. Now Weston has a branch in Karen. For now, apart from Weston Hotel, the DP has also bought Dolphin Hotel once linked to jailed Ketan Somaia at North Coast next to Serena Hotel at a cost of Sh1.5 billion and is currently being renovated. We have also gathered information that by last week, the renovation of the hotel had been stopped through an order by Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho, something that Ruto has not taken lightly.

Sources say the Mombasa county government stopped the renovation over claims that Ruto had gone against the stipulated rules regarding disposal of waste from the construction site. The orders by Joho followed numerous complaints from residents complaining that the contractor was dumping debris on a public road.

It is imperative to note that Joho and Ruto have been fighting silent wars with Joho accusing Ruto of corruption and Ruto calling Joho an academic pigmy whose source of wealth he cannot account for.

Sources say the bold move by Joho to stop construction work at the hotel has fuelled tension between him and the DP. We have also gathered that Joho is now under pressure from top Jubilee operatives to allow the construction work to continue.

Already, Joho has written to the contractor Avco Agencies Ltd warning that the county staff would move to the site to forcibly evict them if they did not obey the orders.

The letter reads in part: “The development of the land has been carried out without the grant of permission. You are required to immediately cease the undertaking of any works and or construction incidental to the approval. Failure to do that, the enforcement officers shall move in and execute such requirement without further notification made to you”.

Other sources now reveal that the DP has a hotel in Singapore.

Other investments the DP has made within the short time he has served as the DP include the plush home under construction in Eldoret which is estimated to cost Sh1 billion upon completion. Ruto has refuted this amount saying that he would be daft to put such a huge amount for a rural house.

The home under construction sits on a 20-acre piece of land which is part of the 700 acres which the deputy president bought. The house has 30 bedrooms, a helipad and will have a manmade lake. Those who have had the opportunity to see it say it is like Britain’s Windsor castle. It is now being said that once completed, the DP wants to turn it into a five-star hotel and plans to build cottages is on.

Sources say a Chinese construction company is involved. It will contain the main house, a guest wing, two swimming pools, a library, gym and other lavish facilities.

The construction is being done on the land that was part of the 6,000 acres Jagir Farm owned by an Asian businessman. To access the prime investment, a tarmac road is being constructed.

Investigations now reveal that the DP owns a 10,000-acre piece of land in Nyatike constituency in Migori county. Sources say the DP bought the land in partnership with a senior county politician. One may ask, why buy land in Nyatike?

We have since reliably established that the DP had used his political influence and used government machinery to look into the possibility of the area having gold and upon discovery that the land had gold deposits, the DP approached the politician and bought the land.

He has discovered there is gold in Nyatike and the land is having gold ready for exploitation and saw it as a means of making millions from the gold deposits.

It must be noted that trouble has been brewing in Mid Migori Mining Company Limited since 2013 a year after parliament asked the government to investigate the firm.

The DP also has interest in a firm that supplies multibillion power cables. To achieve this, Ruto has made sure his people control Kenya Power. His efforts to ensure the immediate Kenya Power CEO Ben Chumo’s contract extended hit a concrete wall and Chumo retired unceremonisly. The DP is also linked to a firm involved in the manufacture of concrete electricity poles to replace eucalyptus poles which has angered many tree farmers. The cost of an eucalyptus electricity pole was selling at Sh5, 000 while today, the concrete electricity pole is said be in the upwards of Sh10,000 per pole.

To ensure that the firm continues to enjoy tenders with Kenya Power, he ensured Chumo was replaced by his brother-in-law Kenneth Tarus so that it can be business as usual.

Still on land, Ruto has acquired chunks of land within the city, more so, in the Parklands area.

He has interest in geothermal exploration in Baringo county. Apart from politics being the cause of his political beef with Gideon, sources say the lucrative geo-thermal business cannot be ruled out.

 The DP has also invested heavily in the insurance industry. He has used his political powers and influenced all civil servants and police to be insured by African Merchant Assurance Company, a company where he has immense interest.

It must be noted that police vehicles are insured by Amaco. At one time, Amaco, was involved in war with other insurance players over government tenders. There is fear within the industry that Amaco has since Ruto became DP of late won lucrative government tenders including those of the military, government parastatals just to name but a few.

They claim Amaco with strong political connections is using all that is at his disposal, including dropping big names, to win lucrative tenders with both national and county governments is no secret. This is causing ripples and anxiety in the industry with firms without powerful forces behind them being victims as they lose out in the insurance industry at the detriment of Amaco.

Other properties listed under the DP’s name include Oseng Properties Limited, Orterter Enterprises Limited, a residential property along Jogoo Road Nairobi, Osere flats in Rongai, a home in Karen and Ongata Rongai, and a house in Elgon View in Eldoret.   He also owns a home and farm at Sugoi in Eldoret. The DP has also invested in the transport industry and owns apartments at Nairobi’s Pipeline area named Easton Apartments

It is also important to note that the DP chose rather interesting names for the companies he used to facilitate various land deals. Ruto’s main vehicle for land deals was Oseng Properties Limited. The name Oseng or Osengeng is the Kalenjin for ‘these fools’. He had another firm that went by the name Orterter Enterprises Limited. Translated, orterter means ‘we must win’. Another of his operational firms went by the name Matiny Limited. In Kalenjin Matiny stands for ‘whatever the cost’.

There are murmurs within the business community that Ruto and his allies have become official representative of Chinese companies in Kenya who are frequent visitors at his Karen official residence and he normally meets them in a tent. The fear is the house is a state property and CCT cameras can monitor the discussions.

Ruto’s wealth has become talk of town. He has since assuming office, conducted numerous harambees donating generously. He even tried his hand in the media industry when he acquired the defunct Kenya Times Media Trust and took over its printing press along Lusaka Road which was later sold mysteriously with its former workers sent home without any compensation.

Activist Boniface Mwangi in a defamation case against Ruto, is demanding information from KRA on the DP’s tax filings and wealth declaration returns for the time he has been in office. The DP has, however, asked the court to block Mwangi from accessing his wealth records. He is also said to own shares in a security firm going by the name Lavington and owned by Baringo MP Sammy Mwaita.

– Jared Opiyo

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