, NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 8 – Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has ordered the arrest and prosecution of billionaire Humphrey Kariuki for evading Sh41 billion tax through Africa Spirits and Wines of the World (WoW) Beverages where he holds major stakes.
Kariuki is to be prosecuted alongside three directors of WoW Beverages Limited, four others from Africa Spirits Limited and a driver said to be an accomplice.
The alleged tax evasion offences were committed between 2014 and this year, according to the DPP, who want them arraigned in court with various counts—including engaging in fraud, failing to pay tax and being in possession of counterfeit excise stamps.
Haji said he had allowed the companies to settle the tax evasion issue out of court with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) but it did not work.
“With regards to non-payment of taxes, some of the parties were given an opportunity to settle the matter with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), but the process was unsuccessful,” the DPP said in a statement issued on Thursday.
An investigation on the two firms started early this year when the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti led detectives in a major raid at factories located in Thika where over a million bottles of assorted alcoholic drinks and 24,000 counterfeit excise stamps were seized.
An audit by KRA further revealed that the production system at the Africa Spirits Limited factory plant in Thika had been tampered with, leading to the submission of false tax declarations.
As a result, the DPP said: “I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge the suspects.”
Other than Kariuki, those to be arrested include Stuart Gerald Herd (Director WOW Beverages Limited), Peter Njenga Kuria (Director Africa Spirits Limited), Robert Thinji Muriithi (Director WOW Beverages Limited), Geoffrey Kaaria (Director Africa Spirits Limited), Sethu Prabhu (Assistant Production Manager, Africa Spirits Limited), Eric Nzomba (Driver) and Kepha Githu Gakure (Tax Manager, Africa Spirits Limited/WoW Beverages Limited).
The prosecution will also prefer charges against Africa Spirits Limited and WoW Beverages Limited.
The DCI was also directed to probe further whether the 9 suspects were engaging in money laundering.
The 9 have since recorded statements with the DCI over the alleged offences.
On February 14 Kariuki was grilled for more than 9 hours by detectives from the DCI.
The reclusive businessman was accompanied by city lawyer Cecil Miller.
He was grilled by a team drawn from the Kenya Revenue Authority, Bank Fraud Investigations Unit and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.