Dr Leonard Mwithiga: Inside story of wealthy Kenyan in US court over plot to kill his wife

Dr Leonard Mwithiga at a court in Conneticut, US. [Courtesy]

Former Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) boss Leonard Mwithiga had a high-flying career and was at the acme of education with a doctorate in business administration.

Dr Mwithiga, born in 1971 in Machakos County, seemed to have a quiet and happy life.

He previously worked for Kenya Airways, Kenya Shell, Barclays Bank, and Chase Bank. His last employment was at KCB.  

His gross monthly salary was seven figures. In the USA, his lawyers said he earned a “decent” salary.

The turmoil that was silently brewing between him and his wife of 21 years quickly erupted in the US.

We have concealed the name of Mwithiga’s wife owing to the criminal case in the US and for the sake of their two children, who are minors.

Mwithiga has an “Attempt at Murder” charge against him and needs to pay a bail of Sh765 million (USD5 million) to secure temporary release as the case continues.

Uber driver

Emerging details from the State of Connecticut indicate it was an Uber driver entrusted to secure a “hitman” to kill his wife who blew the lid.

The alleged crime that put Mwithiga in the limelight appears to have started in Kenya. Documents seen by The Standard on Saturday indicate that the two had a long-running battle over their children before a Kenyan court. The case was filed on November 8, 2021, before the Children’s Court.

The case’s file shows the last activity was a ruling on November 16, 2022, before Milimani Court magistrate R. Mbogo. A month before the ruling, on September 21, 2022, the DPP had closed an investigations file and declined to prosecute Mwithiga for creating disturbance. The complainant was his wife who claimed he was threatening her life.

“In the present case, the evidence of the complainant was that he used threatening words towards her. This begs the important question; were the alleged words likely to cause a breach of peace? … Notably, the parties are husband and wife who have been married for 20 years,” said the DPP.

“In the police file, the parties are also embattled in a civil suit before Milimani Children’s Court and the same is still ongoing. Consequently, the parties are advised not to use this office to settle personal scores,” the DPP wrote, explaining why he could not charge Mwithiga.

The filings indicate that Mwithiga had filed four urgent applications revolving around children’s custody. On the other hand, his wife replied four times opposing the applications. From the filings, the battles surrounded the minors being in school and leaving the country.

Inst­ant suit

“It is of importance to note that previously, the respondent has attempted to remove the children from the jurisdiction of this honourable court without the consent of the applicant and we fear she might be in the instance attempting to fly with the children out of the country, which action will result to rendering the inst­ant suit nugatory,” the case filed by Mwithiga’s lawyer Elias Mutuma reads in part.

Mutuma confirmed to The Standard that Mwithiga is his client and there was a dispute over the minors before a Kenyan court. He said the court in Kenya had ordered his client’s wife to produce the minors.

“We had orders from children’s court stopping her from leaving with the children and she left secretly. There is a warrant of arrest against the wife for defying court orders. She had been ordered to produce the children,” said Mutuma.

The warrant was issued on October 24, 2022.

After Mwithiga’s wife left for the US, he pursued her before the court in Windham. In his affidavit, he explained that they married on April 28, 2001, in a church ceremony, and were happy until 2008.

Mwithiga said he regretted what happened then, adding that it was a point of his weakness.

“We were able to resolve the matter; however, she made it clear to me that she had lost trust in me as a result of the incident. However, she agreed to give our marriage a second chance,” he said.

From his documents, the family, a priest, the police, and the court knew their differences. The family and priest tried reconciliation while before the police and the court, they tore each other apart.

Second phase

Mwithiga said he learned that his wife had left Kenya on September 27, 2022. The second phase of their battle began in the US.

He said he hired a lawyer and filed a habeas corpus case before the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri.

A habeas corpus case is that which revolves around a dispute about illegal detention. The case intends to force the government or its agencies to produce a detainee either alive or dead before a court of law.

He claimed he tried to serve her in a residence he believed she was living in but found someone else. It was at this time that he hired a private investigator to locate her and the children.

“The private investigator was able to take a photo and a video of my son leaving school. I then flew to the US to assist the private investigator in locating the exact address where my wife and children were residing,” said Mwithiga in his documents filed before the court in Connecticut.

His grievance was that his wife had taken the minors out of Kenya to the US. He alleged that they had no family or financial support.

According to him, they were enrolled in a public institution in the US, while in Kenya, they were in prestigious private institutions.

“She is undoubtedly poisoning the children against me. It became apparent last August when I went to see my daughter at school and she ran away from me. I have a reason to believe my wife is continuing to disparage me to the children to further alienate them from me,” he claimed.

Sought orders

Before the court in America, Mwithiga sought for orders to have the children produced before the court and be allowed to return with them to Kenya.

The documents before the Connecticut are dated September 13. But documents by the State of Connecticut indicate that four days before he filed the civil case, he had met an ‘Uber’ driver. The driver told investigators that the banker would at times set up rides through a text message instead of the taxi-hailing platform.

The driver recorded Mwithiga’s conversations about a difficult divorce and was considering harming his wife. Mwithiga is claimed to have asked the driver to find him anyone who would “hit” his wife. He is also claimed to have implored him to find someone to finish her.

The banker and his driver, according to the State of Connecticut, met several times, and in one instance allegedly said it was okay if his wife was injected with something that would make her very sick, ‘like cancer.’

This driver drove Mwithiga to the school where his children had been enrolled on multiple occasions. He gave investigators three audio recordings and one video recording of the conversation with Mwithiga.

He was arrested after an undercover detective, posing as a hitman, corroborated the Uber driver’s claim.

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