Richard Ngatia is one of Nairobi’s most prominent and recognizable businessmen, with a string of major investments across the hospitality, healthcare and real estate sectors.
He made an unsuccessful bid for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat in the 2022 elections. Ngatia suffered another blow in July this year as he sought a second term as President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), the umbrella body that represents businesses across the country. He lost to Erick Rutto.
He is among businessmen who financed former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election campaign in 2017.
Away from the political arena, the controversial Ngatia is always keen on finding the next big deal. Some know him primarily as the owner of Galileo Lounge in Westlands, one of Nairobi’s most popular high end nightclubs.
The club, popular with prominent figures including politicians and businessmen, claims to offer the city’s best nightlife experience. It features luxurious, spacious design with stylish fittings and private spaces.
However, Ngatia’s other ventures also earn him a pretty penny. Most notable among them is Megascope Healthcare, which shot to infamy at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya and saw Ngatia implicated in the multi-billion ‘Covid Billionaires’ procurement scandal – in which billions of taxpayer funds were allegedly lost to inflated, irregular tenders.
A Senate report revealed that Megascope was among companies that benefited from skewed and irregular procurement processes at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KRA), with the Senate recommending Megascope’s investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
The company is among firms that secured lucrative tenders worth billions to supply various items to KEMSA as part of the country’s Covid-19 response. According to the Senate report, the contract for the supply of theatre equipment was awarded to Shenzen Mindray Biomedical Electronic Co., a company registered in China, at Ksh5.4 billion.
Shenzen Mindray however subcontracted Ngatia’s Megascope in what the Senate committee claimed was a tactic “used to circumvent the procurement process”.
“The committee finds that the contract and the subcontractor’s deed of warranty were used to circumvent the procurement process by awarding the subject matter of the contract to Megascope, a party that would otherwise not have qualified to be awarded the contract as per the term of the tender that required bidders to be original equipment manufacturers,” the report noted.
Ngatia denied any wrongdoing stating that Megascope’s operations were above board.