Africa Spirits challenges account freezing order in court

Thika-based Africa Spirits Ltd plant has filed application seeking to set aside orders issued by Kiambu Chief Magistrate Court freezing their bank accounts for 90 days pending investigations.

Through lawyers Celil Miller and Benjamin Musyoki argued that orders issued by Kiambu court were obtained through the abuse of legal process entailing misrepresentation  and non-disclosure of material facts.

The company moved to court after Kiambu chief magistrate's court froze its bank accounts held at National bank limited and Kenya Commercial Bank for three months after prosecution sought to have the the funds in the accounts preserved pending investigations into tax evasion allegations of billions of shillings.

In documents filed in court, the company says that the orders for freezing the accounts have rendered them unable to comply with the Sh 21 million cash bail granted to them by the Milimani chief Magistrate Francis Andayi after denying charges relating to Sh 41 billion tax evasion case. 

"Unless the orders issues in Kiambu magistrate court misc. Criminal application Number 367 of 2019 preserving bank accounts of affected parties for 90 days are immediately stayed, affected persons, who are operational business and companies are likely to shutdown their operations, default on their monthly statutory obligations such as NHIF, NSSF, PAYE, VAT etc all which will attract penalties and default in paying their workers and creditors, causing them grave suffering ,harm and loss", claim African spirits in the court documents. 

The company added that warrants issued in Kiambu court are illegal and unlawful as the magistrate had no jurisdiction to issue preservation of funds. 

They also claim that the application by the DPPwas an abuse of the court and legal process. 

The firm further claim that the prosecution deliberatelymisled the court that they are investigating offences of failure to pay taxes, beingin possession of customised goods and being in possession of counterfeit stamps,yet the same were made at the time of making allegation relation to three cases pending before  Milimani chief magistrate. 

“If the orders are not immediately stayed and set aside, they will certainly cause grave harm, loss and dame to the companies,indignity of their employees, suppliers and creditors will suffer,” reads the court papers.The company also wants the application certified urgent.

In the case DPP and IG have been listed as respondents and Wow Bevarages limited , National bank limited, Kenya Commerical Bank Limited, Milimani, Thika and Kiambu chief magistrate have been listed as interested parties.

However High courtJudge Jessie Lessit has directed the company to serve the Attorney General who is expected to represent the three Milimani, Thika and Kiambu chief magistrates in the case.

She also directed the applicant to serve National bank limited, Kenya Commerical bank limited with the application before the inter-parties hearing on Setpember 17,2019.  

The DPP was also given file 5 days to file their responces and serve the parties.

This article was published by PEOPLE DAILY ONLINE on September 10, 2019