7 June 2019

Rwanda: Mastermind Tobacco Chairman, Wilfred Murungi, Dead

Mastermind Tobacco Chairman, Wilfred Murungi, has died.

According to Business Daily, a memo that was released by his company on Thursday, confirmed the sudden demise of the tycoon but does not reveal further the circumstances of his death.

His death comes after years a legal tussle pitting the Mastermind Tobacco company and the Kenya Revenue Authority on Sh1.99 billion tax dispute.

On November 20, 2019, Mr Murungi negotiated an out-of-court settlement of tax dispute. Appearing before the Justice Pauline Nyamweya, the legal team that represented the company reported that there was a breakthrough in the negotiations

Mastermind took two years to contract tobacco farmers and build a leaf processing plant and cigarette manufacturing factory, after which Murungi launched the company's flagship brand - Supermatch - in 1989. The filterless Rocket brand followed two years later in 1991, targeting the lower end of the market.

The reclusive tycoon will be remembered for his long-running battle with the taxman and fierce rivalry with BAT, which was played out in court and even reached the floor of Parliament.

There were allegations in 2015 made by the BBC in its Panorama programme that BAT engaged in corporate espionage on Mastermind. In 2011, Mastermind had also accused the British firm of price under-cutting in what remained a bitter fight for a fixed market. BAT, however, denied all the allegations.

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