Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki acquitted of tax evasion charges

Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki has been let off the hook after a magistrate's court acquitted him over Sh7.4 million tax evasion charges.

Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot on Tuesday said the prosecution has not been ready to present any evidence, even after scheduling the case to be heard on a back to back basis.

“Since the prosecution is not ready to prosecute this case, I proceed to dismiss both charges and acquit the accused persons under Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” he said.

Kariuki was set free alongside Peter Njenga, Robert Murithi, Eric Nzomba, Kefa Gakure and Africa Spirits and Wow Beverages Limited

When the suspects were charged last year, the DPP opened three different files on  forgery, money laundering and tax evasion counts.

They were accused of being found in possession of 80 drums of 250 litres each with ethanol valued at Sh7.4 million without payment of the relevant duty in January last year at Africa Spirits and Woew Beverages in Thika town.

The other two cases are, however, still pending before magistrates  Francis Andayi and Martha Mutuku.

In his ruling on Tuesday, Cheruiyot said he found no reason to adjourn the hearing of the case.

The matter had been listed for hearing on Monday but the DPP said he was not ready to proceed. He asked the court to adjourn the matter to allow them consolidate the three cases.

But Cheruiyot said the application to stay the proceedings is unreasonable and against the public interest and the interest of justice.

“I find and hold that to allow the adjournment of this case indefinitely pending consolidation that will be in vain and amendment of charge that is unnecessary and inconsequential would amount to denying the accused person their right to have the trial begin and conclude without unreasonable delay,” he said.

Kariuki through lawyer Kioki Kilukumi and Celil Miller argued that it is an abuse of court process for the DPP to wait for one and half years for him to write to the court on his intention to consolidate the cases.

He said the move by the DPP denied him and his c0-accused the right to fair hearing.

Cheruiyot in his ruling said he was left with no option other than to invoke the provisions of Section 202.

The provision provides that if the complainant having had notice of the time and place appointed for the hearing of the charge, does not appear, the court shall then acquit the accused, unless for some reason it thinks it proper to adjourn the hearing of the case until some other date.

This article was published by The Star on 9/12/2020.