Mastermind Tobacco Chairman Wilfred Murungi is dead, the company has announced.
In a memo to Mastermind Tobacco Company (MTK) staff confirmed the demise of the tycoon, but no information was given to reveal the cause of his sudden 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.
However, on November 20, Mr Murungi negotiated an out-of-court settlement of tax dispute that was successful.
The cigarette maker was challenging a move by the taxman in which auctioneers were sent to seize its assets for defaulting on remittances.
On May 12, 2019, local media reported that workers at the Mastermind Tobacco company were on a go-slow over delayed salaries. That only junior staff members were paid in February and managers had three months salaries unpaid.
Even though the company remained tight-lipped over the issue, reports indicated that over 1,000 workers were affected by the cash crunch in the company that threatened to bring the manufacturer to its knees.
Mastermind is the second largest Tobacco Company in Kenya after British America Tobacco (BAT).
MTK entered the market as a local company in the late 1980’s with its impact growing steadily.
By 2002, the local company held 22 percent of the cigarette market share in the country. All its products are produced within Kenya and the tobacco and leaf is purchased directly from contracted farmers.
In June 2014, MTK was not allowed to purchase tobacco from Migori County after farmers complained about the low purchase price MTK was offering them. Two months later it was reported that hundreds of MTK’s contracted farmers in Migori protested, claiming that the company had reportedly failed to pay fees accrued over eight months that amounted to over Ksh 100 million.
MTK is known for producing affordable cigarettes to Kenyans with its popular brands being Supermatch and Rocket.