By Kampala Sun writers
City fashionista and Managing Director of Abryanz boutique, Brian Ahumuza, postures as the proprietor of one of the most celebrated apparel franchise stalls in the country.
However, word reaching The Kampala Sun is that the socialite is merely a poster boy for a boutique selling more than clothes and taunting as a styling portal for local celebrities. Some of the boutique’s rumoured underhand and underworld dealings have attracted the attention of Interpol.
The Abryanz evolution
Staring into a depressing future after completing his Senior Six, a youthful Abyranz left Masindi determined to turn his fortunes around in Kampala.
Friends reveal how, because of his academic shortfall, Abryanz was keen and humble to learn from the knowledge dispensed by his street-smart mentors. Over time, his earlobes grew longer and wider as an adaptation to pick words of wisdom.
“He needed all the knowledge his ears landed on,” explains one of Abraynz’s confidants.
He was open to any job offers, eventually landing an odd job at Huawei technologies.
According to several media interviews that Abryanz has given, he saved up for the capital to start a clothing business. His first stall, stuffed with overpriced clothes picked from bales in Owino Market, was at the entrance of Prime Complex. He would go on to set up two more stalls; one at Johnson Street and another in the opulent precincts of Garden City.
Differing reports from some of his close friends indicate that the true story of the Huawei “savings” is a mystery and will probably remain concealed in his breath. He made friends with Kim Swagga who was then dressing and styling celebrities like Jose Chameleone.
“Kim Swagga introduced him to TV personalities like Douglas Lwanga and pencil thin Calvin Da Entertainer, both of whom promoted his business through mentions on their television music shows,” a friend says.
Abryanz’s hustle, despair and determination to make it in life introduced him to social circles with a tenacious grip on underworld dealings, money and power.
Abryanz’s life changed drastically when a secretive and suspicious male-only fraternity recruited him. In fact, his leap in business is strongly stitched in with the time he was recruited in the group.
“He opened up the first Abryanz collection shop at Prime Complex and subsequent stalls with funding from this secret fraternity,” narrates a source. “Every idea Brian (Abryanz) conceived was fully executed without batting an eye lid,” the source continues.
For instance, repairs and renovations done at the Garden City branch, which occupies a space of two shops amounting to the monthly rent of sh7m, cost over sh10m.
According to a source that worked in the stall for a year, once Abryanz subscribed to the mysterious group, he was inducted into underworld dealings by the group that found the boutique as an approriate conduit and the clothes as perfect veils.
He started travelling to China to meet “these guys” under the guise of business trips. His activities in China remain a clandestine undertaking, but those in the know say whatever keeps him busy in China is central to appeasing and gratifying the interests of the men in the secret male-only fraternity. In turn, he has been bestowed with all the necessary funding.
The source, however, notes that the funding not only comes from abroad. It is also from local associates who subscribe to the carnal propaganda peddled by the secret fraternity.
Abryanz’s largely fronted intimate relationship with a dripping beauty in Viviene Mutesi Bahati is considered a smokescreen for Abryanz’s engagements with the male business partners.
How the public perceives his romance with Viviene is very important to the guise. On Valentine’s Day, according to a former worker, he had to send himself flowers signed by Viviene Bahati. He subsequently posted them on Facebook with a warm, heartfelt romantic message to Vivienne who was in Dubai at the time.
Touted as a pimp (an allegation Abryanz has vehemently denied), his relationship with Viviene is merely a tinny fit in the grand scheme of the store’s business. She, like some of the girls he employes, are pawns given instructions to go the “extra mile” to lure clients to buy clothes. Girls, like a one Liz, that don’t approve of his business module, quit.
“Carol Mirembe also known as Karo Sovie is stuck with him because Brian manages her musical career,” says a former employee of the Garden City store.
Hunted by Interpol
In June 2014, a close friend to Abryanz who now severed links, was overheard during a night at Venom revealing to his friends how Abryanz is involved in money laundering.
Later that year, the International Police (Interpol) and Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) released a list of over 20 Ugandan firms and individuals suspected to engage in money laundering. Abryanz Collection Shop whose only signatory to the account in United Bank of Africa (one of two banks affected) is Brian Ahumuza, was second on the list.
On October 31, 2014 the FIA and Interpol sent a letter to UBA, that stated in part; “In accordance with section 21 (0) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2013, UBA is hereby instructed to halt all financial activities on the following accounts, until the origin and purpose of the funds have been authenticated.”
In December, when a New Vision reporter contacted Abryanz for comment, he denied any knowledge of the issue.
“I wasn’t contacted by Police nor by the bank. My two accounts in UBA are still active,” he stated. Yet, in an earlier off record interview with The Kampala Sun, Abryanz admitted to having his account blocked but couldn’t disclose why.
Abryanz’s close association with the fraternity is believed to have altered the ownership hierarchy and balance of power of the franchise. Sources inside the fashion store and those who have worked there reveal how Abryanz, like the wage earners at the shop, is given a daily transport allowance.
“From the time I was working there, four months ago, we all used to get transport allowance only that his was more,” says a former employee. “He got sh80, 000 and the rest of us received sh10, 000.”
“The boutique is either on loan or it isn’t his. He doesn’t enjoy any fruits from it. He lives strictly by policy,” reveals the source who says, after the allowances have been paid out, the rest of the money is balanced and deposited in a bank by a secretary.
The financial performance of the shop is captured daily, and a report is sent via email to a nkuba kyeyo (odd job worker in the diaspora).
Martin Sekyanzi, a member of the secret fraternity, is said to be one of the principal funders of the shop.
When the boutique achieves milestones, like it did during the redesign and expansion of the Garden City branch, Abryanz invited him as the guest of honour.
Without diminishing the delicate aura and flair Abyranz has built around him, the formerly pale village boy from Masindi continues to successfully pose as the Abryanz franchise top dog.