When police raided Humphrey Kariuki’s multimillion alcohol empire in Thika town last week, the world of Kenya’s most reclusive billionaire was opened for all to see.
Detectives led by Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet and senior Kenya Revenue Authority officials made what they said was a dazzling find: An estimated 21 million counterfeit excise stamps and 312,000 litres of illicit products — all worth billions of shillings in taxes.
Mr Kariuki’s Africa Spirits Limited is now under police watch — and by Sunday evening, detectives were still looking for him.
Africa Spirits is only a small part of Mr Kariuki’s multibillion empire — all under the name of a holding company, Janus Continental Group and which encompasses all that a billionaire would want: A five-star luxurious Mt Kenya Safari Club originally a retreat to famous Hollywood stars such as William Holden — who founded the club.
Its members once included British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US singer and actor Harry Bing Crosby.
The name Janus is significant in one critical way — and for such an empire.
Janus, which means “the beginning and origin of things”, is an ancient two-faced Roman god who provided protection in the beginnings and endings “at the gates, the doorways, and passages and endings”.
As a god, Janus had the uncanny ability to see both in front and behind; thanks to his being a two-faced god.
But when detectives raided one of Janus’ establishments in Thika — it seemed that the protection against any nosy raid on Janus properties had vanished; at the tail-end of January (which ironically stands for the month of Janus).
Unlike other billionaires who love publicity, Mr Kariuki is the country’s equivalent of Mr Brad Kelley, the US tycoon known for his love of exotic animals, and who despite his extra-ordinary wealth shies away from publicity.
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SOURCE: Daily Nation.