Connect with us

General News

Unmasked: He Offered Sh28B For Mumias Revival, Unraveling The Mystery Of Julius Mwale

Published

on


Five minutes, that’s all it takes for the swave, smooth talker Julius Mwale to sell a vest to an Eskimo. Those who’ve interacted with him are often left with awe of how he does the trick. It is this magic that the man from Butere has been able to capture headlines, brokering deals that sounds out of the world.

Mumias sugar company has been shopping for investors to resuscitate the collapsed firm. When the bids were opened last week, it emerged that US-based company Tumaz and Tumaz Enterprise, which is associated with Julius Mwale the man behind Mwale Medical and TecnoCity, had topped the list after it quoted Sh26.7 billion with three others quoting slightly higher than Sh10 billion with Jaswant Rai quoting Sh8.5 billion while Raval quoted Sh3.5 billion.

How Mwale, a man who’s been struggling to finish his aerial city project in Butere with heap of cases from unpaid contractors amounting to hundreds of million shillings would suddenly be splashing billions on an exaggerated deal, baffled me. Kenya Insights is going to dive into the silently told stories of the ‘billionaire’ who has never been featured on Forbes.

Like many of his like, Mwale’s story is on a permanent template, if you meet him, his story is the same, a typical grass to grace story, convenient angle to his agendas.

It’s always how he grew up a poor boy in Butere Kakamega, joined Air-force, fled the country when he fell out with senior military officials over his innovations, sought asylum in the U.S. and came home a Billionaire after only six years.

The true story of Mwale has however never been told, the crafty businessman knows him who controls the media, controls the masses, he’s been very specific with his media engagements and in Kenya’s case, deals with specific media houses, we’ve learnt he hired a South African PR firm to run his communications, he has never allowed any independent media house in his perimeter, perhaps for the fear of asking hard questions.

In February 2018, Standard investigative journalists Paul Wafula attempted to secure an interview with Mwale, the likely happened, he was taken in rounds for days he stayed in Kakamega waiting for Mwale he was very much avoiding him. The interview never happened. Despite refusing the investigative journalists he gave two marketing interviews to local television stations to advance his investment dream.

Standard wanted to know the people funding his project or where the money is coming from. And to know why he was having trouble paying his suppliers and employees, and his stay in the US.

After the failed attempt, Standard concluded “Meeting Julius Mwale can be an easy affair, if you are a potential investor. You will be swiftly processed by his handlers with open arms and ushered though the gates to his mansion. But it will be impossible to see him if you are chasing after your cheque, your salary or you are a critical journalist.”

In a 2009 interview he said that he was “forced to flee the country” when he had a disagreement with government authorities over the technology research he worked on for the military. He claims his life was in danger.

He had worked with Kenya Airforce after joining the Armed Forces Technical College for a telecommunications engineering degree.

Army authorities would later dismiss the reports, claiming Mwale was fired for being absent without permission (AWOL). And here’s where the red flags starts to lineup. Cooked, convincing, convenient narrative.

“It was during this training that he was absent without leave (AWOL) on May 27, 1999 at 8:00 am. He has therefore never been qualified or graduated as a radar technician or as an aeronautical engineer as he has previously stated ”, reiterated the spokesperson for the KDF, Colonel David Obonyo.

Mwale and singer Akon, they have a lot in common as you’re about to find out. Photo courtesy.

It is reported that Mwale enrolled in a Masters in Electrical Engineering in 2003 as “Special Admission to Columbia University”. It is not yet clear how he could enroll in a master’s degree with a diploma certificate.

Silently, Mwale went to seek asylum in the United States for nine years, after which he returned in 2009 as president and chief strategy officer at SBA Technologies Inc, a multi-million dollar company.

In 2010, Julius Mwale announced that his company, SBA Technologies, planned to list 10 percent of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ. Keep in mind that with the huge figures thrown around, not so much was known about the company, infact it emerged it had a fake Brooklyn address, it didn’t exist, later it disappeared, even the website doesn’t exist anymore.

In New York, Mwale founded SBA Technologies Inc., a company that he said provided secure platforms for mobile banking and commerce. The Kenyan entrepreneur and his business faced at least three lawsuits in New York, public records showed.

In March 2012, a New York court ordered Mwale and SBA Technologies — alongside another defendant, Fiona Graham — to pay more than $325,000 to two women who sued Mwale and Graham for what they alleged was a fraudulent loan. In 2015, a New York court ordered Mwale to pay more than $209,000 to the former landlord of his Manhattan office after Mwale was accused of failing to pay rent and other bills for nearly a year. And in 2017, Arthur Ntozi, a Ugandan tech entrepreneur, sued Mwale, alleging he failed to repay a $50,000 loan.

After the reported suit in New York and associated problems, Julius Mwale and Co. (his wife and friend Fiona) founded American Institute for African Development (AIAD), a private operating and grant making foundation.

Mwale was once detained for defaulting a Sh3.4M hotel bill at Norfolk where he used Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s name to get away and ran back to the US. His brother Tindi Mwale, Butere MP was charged with fraudulently withdrawing pesa from a HFC diaspora client’s account by hacking into her email and sending instructions to the bank.


Mwale would the Nation Media Group over the hotel saga story that was done by Business Daily, he lost the suit.

When one does a shallow due diligence on Mwale by basic Google search, it’s unlikely to find anything shocking other than his big figures thrown around, why? He has his ways of ensuring any article negative, unmasking him are disappeared. He only ensures his sponsored articles and media praising him remain afloat. Kenya Insights is likely the only source you’ll find a different angle to his story.

When he landed in Kenya, his investments were riddled with mysteries and alleged lawlessness.

For example, Mwale, through his company, started the Ksh 200 billion Mwale Medical and Technology City project in Butere, Kakamega County.

The feasibility study alone Mwale said had cost him 3.9 million dollars (400 million Ksh). The city reportedly planned a 5,000-bed referral medical hospital, a 144-megawatt residual energy facility, a 36-hole golf resort, and residences containing 1,500 rooms and 4,800 homes.

Besides the cost, the project raised many questions about its viability, its target customers and the initial source of funding.

In addition, the developer, Tumaz and Tumaz Enterprises, was at daggers drawn with Kakamega County which said in 2017 that it never authorized the investor to undertake the development and accused it of violating several laws.

According to county authorities, the investor violated the Kakamega County Physical Planning Law requiring the county to monitor developments under its jurisdiction, the Public Health Housing and Sanitation Law, the Law on the county government providing a framework for county planning and county land registration law.

The county wanted to demolish the project, but Mwale went to court and obtained orders banning the move.

Outside the county, many residents are said to have lost large tracts of land to Mwale, who made empty promises to build residential and rental homes for them.

Julius Mwale’s Crystal ball had never been clearer, and in it he saw a brand new world in which he would be the architect.

Mwale left the country with almost nothing. But he returned a billionaire.

Nothing, it seemed was impossible for the man who dazzled former school mates and childhood friends who struggled to reconcile the old him, with the new one hell bent on transforming his village into a silicon savannah worth at least Sh200 billion. In fact, in a few years, would build a city so big that, in his own words, would rival Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

To set the ball rolling, Mwale, a talented salesman and a man keen on self-image, built himself a luxurious mansion, complete with a perimeter fence. He furnished his home with kingly furniture. The lighting is state-of-the art. The floors and staircase thickly carpeted. He built himself a house that spelt opulence in capital letters. Portraits of himself standing next to global personalities including Barack Obama dot his walls. And he talked big too.

There are 40 private security guards watching after his empire. He also has two policemen on guard day and night in addition to numerous CCTV cameras.

To get to the house, you must go through two gigantic gates. If you are unwanted, you will not make it past the second gate. If you were lucky to pass the second gate, then you will not survive the dogs that lie in wait for any unwelcome guest.

It is from the comfort of this home that most investment deals and construction contracts have been be sealed. And it is from the confines of this same house, that Mwale is now overseeing the peeling of a veneer he had painstakingly applied on himself.

He is a charming master painter and over his 46 years, he has managed to paint himself in different colours. Of all the hues he has had, none was as successful as the one he adopted in 2010 when he passed himself off as a technology genius and inventor of a rather successful mobile systems software.

Keen on keeping up appearances, Mwale did not travel alone during his visit to Kenya from the US. He was flanked by four Americans meant to sell his story of success beyond doubt. After all, if he had made it in America, he could make it anywhere.

His travelling posse included Kaila E Knox, his wife, his brother in law Daniel Knox, who ran the day to day operations at the Hamptons Mall, the anchor supermarket for his gigantic investment. There were also two other whites, namely William and Christine, who handle investors and recruitment of staff among other roles. Their main job was to add credibility to Mwale’s project and kill any suspicion that he was not what he was saying he was.(If you have watched comedian Terence Creative’s wash wash skits then this arrangement should make sense).

To give credibility to the ‘bizness legit’ the Mzungu brother in-law is always in the picture during negotiations.

Charm offensive

After the stylish landing, Mwale still had to convince Butere locals to buy into his ideas. He needed land. So once again, he went into a charm offensive with the sole goal of securing the 5,000 acre communal land around the proposed site of his investment.

First, he promised locals that all residents of Kakamega County would be treated free of charge in the medical referral hospital he is building. He was going to change their fortunes by creating 20,000 new jobs in the county. They would be the first beneficiaries.

He dangled the carrot of possibility to his neighbours. He sold hope, possibility and aspiration. All the residents needed to do was hand over part or all of their land to him. In exchange he would build them houses that they would either live in or choose to rent out to some of the 20,000 newly created workforce.

To make it achievable, Mwale broke down his ambitious plan in two year phases that would see him put up the Hamptons Mall, a concept borrowed from The Hamptons in the US.

The US Hamptons is described as the summer playground of wealthy New Yorkers. It is the home to some of the most expensive real estate investments in the country.

Mwale wanted to replicate that in his rural home. He was to build the Hamptons Mall, which would have 200,000 square feet, the Mwalmart supermarket, a cafe and private residences in the first two years.

Phase two would be to put up more than 300 solar street lights, 70km of roads, and a 5,000 bed medical referral hospital, which was initially meant to be opened to the public by July last year. With the medical city, Mwale’s vision was to provide a competitive facility in the region that would stop thousands of residents from East Africa from flying to India for medical tourism.

The hospital would have 2,000 doctors and 4,000 nurses by 2020. These doctors will be seeing 12,000 patients per day. The first batch of doctors were scheduled to report to the hospital in July last year, to run the cancer treatment centre from August. With those numbers of medics and patients, his hospital would be bigger than Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya’s main referral hospital.

The third phase of the project, which runs between 2017 and 2020 is the most ambitious. Villagers would see the first 36-hole golf course. Along the golf course, he would put up 1,500 guest rooms.

There would also be 4,800 new houses to host doctors and nurses also built alongside the golf course.

The next step would be to do a technology park that would host 10,000 engineers. He would then build a 144 megawatt gasification waste to energy power plant, one of its kind on the continent. The power plant would be run by the waste generated by the city.

Building such a plant would need mountains of waste, rigorous environmental impact assessment tests and dislocation of people.

To put this into context, KenGen, which has resources and government backing takes at least three years to build a power plant that has similar capacity. This is minus the time taken for mobilising funds and community sensitisation which can take on average about two additional years.

But Mwale’s plan was to have this plant up and running in two years, despite having no waste on the ground. Sensing naivety, the pitch continued. He would have a medical school in the complex. He would then build an airport, a second mall, a convention centre and a water park. The icing on the cake will be an aerial cable car to transport visitors and patients from the airport to the hospital. With this plan, Mwale needed investors to sign up as quickly as possible to make the 2020 dream a reality.

Mwale says in his multiple marketing interviews that the first and second phases of the project are fully funded. The hospital and the power plant are also fully funded.

He says that a third of the 4,800 homes have also been committed. The only available investment opportunities he is offering potential investors is the remaining 3,200 homes.

He has 25 housing plans for investors to pick from among them mansions, town homes and apartment buildings.

Apartments range from about Sh10 million while mansions go for as high as Sh100 million.

The ex-soldier will not take more than five minutes to hook an unsuspecting investor to buy into his dream.

After the locals were hooked, Mwale, went for the bigger fish on a whirlwind of contract signing. Contractors from across the country were basically eating out of his hand and scampering to secured tenders in this mega project. The first main contracts were to build roads and set up street lights. The involvement of his white employees’ gave comfort to investors that they were dealing with a man of means, and many took his word for it.

Some rushed to take bank loans and spent millions to be part of the Mwale dream. After all, payments were being made every 45 days after completion of works. Or so they thought.

Contractors are now fighting in and out of court to get their money. But, as many have come to realise, Mwale’s vault may contain significantly less money than he leads people to believe.

In 2018, the shrewd businessman was accused of issuing bouncing Cheques including dollar ones.

A group of contractors and suppliers contracted Robi Kerato, a law firm, to demand money on their behalf after Mwale delayed to pay for goods and services rendered.

The matter escalated, when a Kakamega court ordered the businessman then facing charges of obtaining services by false pretense to deposit his Kenyan passport in court.

In 2019, Mwale claimed to have used Ksh19 billion to build a shopping center, hospital, homes, golf course, power plant, 150 kilometers of road and an airport within the medical facility.

What was once looked like a village paradise is now collapsing rapidly, with a number of contractors, suppliers, traders and vendors complaining that Julius Mwale MTC owes them millions in unpaid bills.

Some claim to have been physically prevented from accessing the facility to demand payment, while others only receive promissory notes and have never been paid.

Bloggers, content creators and models who were hired by Mwale through a South African agency were never paid a dime, with some choosing to remove the promotional material they had created.

The models were reportedly hired by Bianca Koyabe, a South African model.

As Mwale jumps out to other ventures, the city venture in Butere is failed, what remains is a ghost.

Akon City

Last year, Singer Akon announced his plans to build a new $6 billion smart city in Senegal where nationals can live and work—and where members of the African Diaspora will always be welcome. He would call it ‘Akon City’ And just as Mwale’s dream city is described, the 2,000-acre metropolis, which was first touted by the singer back in 2018, will feature a sprawling luxury resort, high-rise condos, recording studios, a stadium, and even its own cryptocurrency, “Akoin.”

The oasis is also expected to run on clean energy—no doubt supplied by the singer’s Akon Lighting Africa, which backs solar energy projects in rural areas—plus features an artificial intelligence data center. Naturally, the new city will have a futuristic aesthetic to match the cutting-edge tech. Penned by Bakri & Associates Development Consultants, the city is characterized by gleaming structures that have an almost Surrealist feel. In fact, the renderings look like the backdrop of a Ridley Scott film.

Akon City designed by Bakri & Associates Development Consultants.
Bakri & Associates Development Consultants/Akon City

However, a year after singer Akon laid the first stone of the $6 billion futuristic city he vowed to build for his native Senegal, the site remains grassland.

The stone itself sits at the bottom of a dirt track in a field; a small placard advertising the megaproject has fallen off it.

Construction of “Akon City,” a project due to feature ultramodern twisting skyscrapers, was already meant to have begun near the Atlantic Ocean village of Mbodiene.

But building work is yet to start, prompting residents who were hoping for jobs to wonder about its future.

The stone to commemorate the start of construction of “Akon City” is pictured in Mbodiene on August 30, 2021. One year after rapper, Akon, laid the first stone of his six billion dollar city outside the small seas side village of Mbodiene, the site remains empty. PHOTO | AFP

Just like Mwale’s Butere city and we’re going to tell you shortly how he comes in, the glittering vision of Akon City is a far cry from the existing sleepy hamlet of Mbodiene, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the capital, where pigs roll in the muck and donkeys amble along the road.

At $6 billion, the planned cost of Akon City is huge — it is not much smaller than Senegal’s overall 2020 budget of about $7.5 billion.

The pomp and size the project elicited scepticism in Senegal at first, where developers and politicians often tout the merits of pet building works.

About 40 percent of Senegal’s 16 million people live below the poverty line, according to a World Bank metric.

A lack of clarity regarding Akon City’s funding also raised questions.

Paul Martin, from the US-based firm KE International which won the Akon City construction contract, said that Kenyan entrepreneur Julius Mwale is the lead investor.

How Akon with a net-worth of $80M, Mwale with unknown net worth would martial through finances to put up a city worth close to Senegal’s annual national budget is a mystery.

Akon and Mwale when the singer visited Kenya.

In February 2020, Mwale announced that MMTC will be marketed by musician Akon and that the Akon Town Project will use the Mwale CMMS as a benchmark for success.

 

Akon last year announced another development in Uganda, futuristic city. Another dream city. As you’ve noticed, these characters keep announcing huge figures way beyond their net worths.

Kenya Insights can however authoritatively reveal that, that are always conduits and shadows of secret investors. There are people with idle billions who’re ready to throw in cash at any convincing opportunity. Akon was recently listed by Forbes as one of the individuals who are safe to do business with, not the first time Forbes has gotten it wrong. Critics have described him as a fraud. None of his projects have shown beyond the cameras.

They use their public influence to attract the unsuspecting investors with their mind boggling projects which is accompanied with sponsored international media amplification.

As Mwale puts Sh28B In Mumias and his City turning into a ghost which cases of angry unpaid contractors on his back, major questions remains;

What is the source of Julius Mwale’s money/income/funding? How did he manage, beyond visiting the US premises and working there for six years, to pull through this Kenyan project alone? No mention of other people working on the project, other than land sellers.

What role has national government played in this ambitious project? Any tax waivers or concessions provided? What about local government? Did they allow him to build the roads on his own? What guarantees have they given for such an multi-million dollar investment?

What’s his ACTUAL Kenyan background story? Any prior business training or something as footsteps to this great investment? Anyone knew him from his days in school, college? Why have people seemingly deserting him? No friends, partners to back him up and his projects?

Where did Julius Mwale get Ksh28,000,000,000(USD28B), Ksh. 4,000,000,000(USD4B) and KSh. 2,000,000,000 (US $2 billion) for the his Mwale Medical and Technology City as claimed? I haven’t seen any credit reference materials on his alleged worth, or his companies Tax return fillings.

And now that he has a plan like he had always had in other projects, given his history, integrity issues, is Mumias willing to place their fate on the controversial businessman? Is there any due diligence being done? Everything remains a mystery, what’s certain is the real answers will never come willingly from the stealth businessman.

The Julius Mwale “philanthropic?” investment saga remains intriguing. While it appears noble and probably laudable, there are definitely lingering hard questions that need to be asked and exhaustive interrogations made about his source of financing.

Given the track record of such ventures in this country especially those financed by opaque & untraceable sources of wealth there is almost always an opportunity cost; in most cases one detrimental to those with the least information(ask residents of Butere).





Source link

Comments

comments

Facebook

Trending