Former Nairobi chief finance officer Jimmy Mutuku Kiamba may be a lucky man indeed. For someone whose fairly well off father literally bought him a job at the now defunct Machakos county council to start out with, it is baffling how he grew his fortune to hit just over the billion-shilling mark, a couple of years later.
Could it be hard work, opportunity, business savvy or just lucky? Maybe yes maybe no. It could be any of the above – or none at all. Whichever way one looks at it, an element of luck suffices as a common denominator here; in its own small way.
Jimmy must have been lucky to be born and grown up in an ‘elite’ family, at least by the standards of their Machakos neighbourhood. He must have been lucky to have gained a good education uninterrupted; Mutuku certainly attended good learning institutions – both basic and higher.
And, oh yes, Kiamba the man must have been lucky to have emerged the highest bidder in the search for treasurer job at the defunct Machakos county council, before transferring to Mombasa in a similar capacity.
He may have deserved the Nairobi posting as chief finance officer and later finance executive, the mother of all fortune. From taking home a paltry Sh85,000 in salary to building a billion-shilling empire. Lucky he! But alas, sometimes one runs out of luck!
When Anti-Corruption Court judge Hedwig Ong’udi last week ordered that Kiamba surrenders Sh317 million to the state for his failure to explain how he acquired his stately Runda mansion and cash deposits in bank accounts little did it occur to many that much more was at stake.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission had actually sought the forfeiture of Kiamba’s assets worth a whopping Sh872 million which it considered unexplained wealth. According to the EACC account, the agency had investigated the former city father’s 11 bank accounts activities spread in eight banks dating from August 2009 to January 2015, and established that the deposits were far beyond his legitimate income.
But in his response, Kiamba claimed he, together with his wife ran several businesses spread across hotel, transport, farming, real estate, quarry and interior design ventures. To his reprieve though, Justice Ong’udi ruled some of the properties listed were legally acquired.
EACC’s suspicion of City Hall thefts were partly informed by the over Sh400 million Kiamba deposited between January and November, 2014 despite earning a Sh85,000 monthly salary as CFO. EACC had in its previous submissions narrated to the court how Kiamba used his junior officers to deposit huge amounts of money in his accounts. The junior officers ranged from drivers to security guards.
Now Sh300 million poorer at the stroke of Justice Ong’udi’s pen, Kiamba’s fall from grace epitomises privileged Kenyans’ allure for overnight millionaire status that more often than not see some big names tumble irredeemably.
Typically, such are the mandarins that would look down on “commoner”, treating others with disdain as they flaunt their illgotten riches. Those who know Kiamba say he was a proud man who would sneer at you.
Yet now, the man is so depressed that this writer ran into him as he talked to himself as well as gesticulating ferociously in the streets of Nairobi. Friends and foe alike have been mocking him, wondering how he could have done what he did.
Others say the hitherto reclusive Kiamba is virtually headhunting friends to keep him company as he drowns himself in alcohol. Pride, they say, comes before a fall.