Esther Passaris recently claimed that Equity Bank CEO and founder Dr James Mwangi sexually harassed her. This has both surprised and drawn the ire of those who know the two well. A section of businessmen and friends of the two, read dishonesty in the claims, having known the two for sometime.
Known to friends and foes is the fact that Dr Mwangi knows how to appreciate good women, but two people who have been friends to the two say that it’s hard to believe that “Dr Mwangi could force himself on women, more so, Passaris.”
A female friend of the two poked holes into the claims by Passaris knowing her various dalliances with billionaires and that the Adopt-A-Light founder claim to fame was because she successfully sued a billionaire, Pius Ngugi who owns Thika Coffee Mills and Kenya Nut Company for breaching a promise to marry her.
When Ngugi registered Mama Trust Fund to manage a property in Spring Valley registered in their 3 kids names, Passaris mismanaged the property and tried to use all way of coercions to have the TCM billionaire pay her more money. The billionaire refused and the matter ended up in court, with the ruling later embarrassing Passaris.
In her suit Passaris claimed that Pius Mbugua Ngugi had not only backtracked on a promise to marry her but also lied to her that he had a vasectomy operation and so convincing her to not use birth control pills. Pius Ngugi is known to me an amorous person with a chain of girlfriends, some of them even underage. But the funny claims by Passaris won her millions in settlement. She never stopped demanding more nor trying to lure other men into bed with her. It’s well-known how she was able to literally penetrate the ODM high command that she got a mayoral seat and won a nomination for Embakasi seat after the death of Mugabe Were. Passaris couldn’t be elected as mayor after the ODM nomination because she was mysteriously omitted from the list of gazetted councillors
Back to affair with Dr James Mwangi
While many can say things about Dr. Mwangi, one thing which has put him above his peers is his business acumen. The businessman is suave that he will smell a business deal from miles. He saw the opportunity to work with the government of President Kibaki and used that to build the Equity Bank group that now it’s the leading bank by subscriber base. How it moved from a building society to its current state is a story which will be told for eons.
So in 2006 (one year after the alleged sexual harassment), Esther Passaris approached Equity Bank to lend her Sh60 million to roll out Equity Bank billboards throughout Nairobi. She had an approved LPO from the bank but she didn’t have the money. She was lucky that her client was a bank and she was friends with the CEO. Having been praised for her advertising skills, Equity believed that Adopt-A-Light would deliver. So she was given a Ksh 35.8million loan.
Unfortunately for Passaris, the Nairobi City Council (NCC) cancelled her exclusive outdoor advertising licence before the advertising deal with Equity could be fully implemented. This effectively meant Adopt a Light could not honour the deal with Equity. Passaris took the NCC to court for cancelling her advertising licence (the case is listed as Civil Case No: 637 of 2006 and was heard for the first time before Lady Justice Okwengu on May 8, 2006 and later by Justice Waweru on November 27, 2006 after the adjournment of the first case. The case played out in court as Equity Bank patiently waited for the contract to be honoured.
Meanwhile, Passaris and her company continued playing hide and seek with the advertising posts which would be erected and later be defaced or totally removed by the ruthless NCC enforcement officers. Tired of playing Ping-Pong with Passaris, the NCC’s City Planning department wrote to Equity Bank accusing it of erecting 244 adverts on various roads in Nairobi without its authority.
In the letter, the NCC asked Equity Bank to pay a total of Sh7,808,000 as application and licence fee for the year 2007 and 2008. Passaris went to court claiming to be paid for work that was not done. High court judge Fred Ochieng, in a ruling upheld an earlier judgment of the High Court where Passaris’ company Adopt-A- Light, had been awarded through arbitration, Sh30.9 million in June and interest of Sh4.9 million.
The arbitrators include lawyers Njoroge Regeru, Njeri Kariuki, and Ahmednasir Abdullahi. The bank paid Passaris anyway, perhaps with the hope that she would use the proceeds to pay part of the loan that she had been granted. But Passaris pocketed the money, stopped paying the loan and instead started writing letters to the bank asking that the interest rates on the loans she had procured be reviewed downwards. On August 21, 2009, the bank made a claim under a Performance Guarantee issued by APA Insurance Ltd for the botched advertising deal but the claim was not settled.
Passaris remained adamant and refused to repay her loan balance despite several reminders from the bank, forcing Equity Bank to go to court seeking to compel her to repay the loan. The case is listed as Civil case no: 470 of 2013. In the whole business deal, Passaris did not at any time deal with the bank’s MD, including during the application and disbursement of the loan that was overseen by the Relationship Manager in charge of credit at its Community Supreme Centre branch.
For Passaris to expect mercy on a business deal because of her imagined relationship with the CEO informs you what kind of character she is. Why is Passaris fond of billionaires? What’s with her claim and blackmailing of billionaires? Doesn’t she have something better than her private parts to depend on? In 2005 when the alleged sexual harassment actually took place (at Mt. Kenya Club as she said), she was an independent adult of sound mind. Why didn’t she take Dr. Mwangi to court then? Was she a minor or hurting? How long did her pain take?
Remember that Passaris also filed a case not to pay rent to Kultar Singh.
She is known to date a wealthy Kenyan politician now.