Jun 13, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Humphrey Kariuki tax evasion case adjourned after co-accused falls sick

Nairobi chief magistrate Francis Andayi was ready to proceed with the case which is now being prosecuted by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Mr Andayi noted, however, that “one can only follow court proceedings once in good health” and that good health is a primary constitutional right.

Allowing Mr Kariuki’s co-accused, Mr Peter Njenga, to seek medical care, he adjourned the case, which has been pending in court for two years, to June 29.

Mr Njenga was asked to consult his doctor to get a clean bill of health before the trial resumes.

Mr Andayi directed Mr Njenga to present a medical report to the court on June 9 to enable him make an informed decision on when the trial should resume.

He asked the lawyers to reserve June 29 and 30 as tentative trial dates. The magistrate asked the lawyers to block July 2 and 3 as other hearing dates.

Ready to proceed

Mr Kariuki and Mr Njenga are charged alongside Robert Mureithi, Simon Maundu and Kefa Gakure in two consolidated cases whose prosecutionis being led by KRA prosecutor Sheila Sanga.

Ms Sanga told the court that she had lined up two witnesses who were ready to testify.

Mr Kariuki’s lawyers, senior counsel Kioko Kilukumi anCecil Miller, said they were ready to proceed with the case in which the businessman was charged with tax evasionin 2018.

The lawyers said they would indulge Mr Njenga since “it is no one’s fault to fall ill”.

Besides Mr Njenga’s health concern, his lead lawyer, Philip Murgor, withdrew from the case.

The accusations

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has given prosecutorial authority to KRA to lead evidence in the case against the businessman.

The DPP brought two tax-related cases against Mr Kariuki, an alcoholic beverages manufacturer, and seven others, before bringing KRA on board.

Mr Haji reduced the number of charges against Mr Kariuki from 19 to 11 in the fresh case filed before Mr Andayi.

Mr Kariuki and his co-accused denied failing to pay tax of Sh17,782,553,085 to the commissioner of domestic taxes between January and December 2016.

They are also accused of omitting Sh832,048,543 in Value Added Tax (VAT) for Africa Spirits Limited (ASL), an amount which had been included in the returns, for the period January to December 2016.

For 2017, Mr Kariuki allegedly failed to remit Sh5,981,840,025 while ASL failed to remit Sh2,188,622,304.

For 2018, the directors of Wow Beverages Limited (WBL) and ASL are charged with failing to remit Sh5,673,829,000.

Court orders

Earlier, Mr Kilukumi and Mr Miller raised concerns about non-compliance with a court order for the Thika-based liquor factory to be handed over to its owners.

The lawyers also objected to the request by KRA for the hearing to take place at the factory, saying the DPP and taxman were in contempt of court for “failing to hand over the factory despite an order to do so”.

Mr Kariuki and his co-accused were earlier charged in three different cases with tax-related offences.

The third one was thrown out by the court in December 2020.

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