The mention of the name James Philip Maina Ndegwa will draw little or no attention among most Kenyans, but in the halls of most parastatals and government agencies one might be sent packing at the mention of the name.
He is the chairman of the NIC Bank, which merged with CBA bank to form the new NCBA Bank, where he is said to own a couple of shares.
He is the Chairman of First Chartered Securities Limited and a director of several companies. Prior to his present position, he was the Managing Director of Lion of Kenya Insurance Company until 2003.
A man who shies away from media is now the centre of interest in a multibillion scandal at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), that has seen several government officials record statements with the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI).
At the centre of the scandal is Baringo Senator Gideon Moi through a company called Mitchell Cotts Ltd and Nairobi Inland Container Ltd (NICT).
Of more interest in the two companies, that were awarded a container storage contract two years ago by KPA, is Mitchell Cotts Ltd which is in a maze of 17 companies that own one another, creating confusion of who the real owner is.
Of the 17, the owners of ten of them cannot be traced, even at the registrar’s office. For the remaining seven, James Philip Maina Ndegwa is listed as a shareholder in five of them, but cleverly excluded from the mother company. A person suspected to be Ndegwa’s kin, Andrew Steward Mangi Ndegwa, is listed as a shareholder for the mother company.
Other shareholders in the mother company include Josphat Muchiri Gateri, Joshua Chelego Kulei, Christopher Walter Obura, Gideon Towet Moi and Dr Christopher Walter Obura.
It is reported that Ndegwa and Moi were among the first to be questioned about the tender on Monday at the DCI offices in Kiambu, putting them in the limelight as the prime suspects in the scandal.
In one of the 17 companies, Makimwa consultants Ltd, Ndegwa is listed with his kins Alison Mary Ndegwa, Leslie Ruth Wakini Ndegwa and Andrew Ndegwa.
Other companies where Mr Ndegwa is listed as a shareholder include Mitchell Cotts Kenya Ltd, Sansora Investments Ltd, Mitchell Cotts Investment Ltd, Mitchell Cotts Freight Ltd and First Chartered Securities Ltd.
From the list above, you realise how the name Mitchell has been used in several companies, against the registrar of companies rules that do not allow the use of one name in different companies. However, owing to their ‘power’, the proprietors were able to use the name, which further makes a search tedious and almost impossible for the impatient.
The Ndegwa family is said to be so powerful that it does business with the Moi and Kenyatta families, and very few officers in the government can stand on their way.
Ndegwa’s First Chartered Securities Limited owns 133,636 ordinary shares in Mitchell, the mother company. The biggest shareholder in the company is Mitchell Cotts Investments Limited, which has 534,544 shares in its name.
Another company, High Trees Limited, whose ownership remains a mystery according to the Nation, owns 267,272 shares in Mitchell Cotts Limited.
Makimwa Consultants Limited owns 133,636 ordinary shares in the mother company.
A part from the KPA scandal, Ndegwa was nominated to the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) as the chairman, where he has been accused of stifling competition.
James Ndegwa is affiliated to three money markets funds – ICEA money market fund, NCBA money market fund, and Stanlib money market fund so questions are being asked how is to help regulate the sector when he is issuing directives which are meant to favour his associates.
CMA rules require that only a bank can be a trustee but has gone ahead and selected five banks as trustees which include KCB, Cooperative Bank, Stanbic, National Bank and HF Bank. What this means is that fund managers have to get approval from these trustees as to how their funds are managed, and it is likely that some Ndegwa and other trustees favour investments back into the banking sector.