Court visits Humphrey Kariuki's firm after evidence theft reports
Court officials on Tuesday visited a firm associated with tycoon Humphrey Kariuki in Thika to inspect the premises after reports of repeated vandalism and theft of evidence.
The business magnate is facing a Sh41 billion tax evasion case.
The visit at Africa Spirits Limited and WOW Beverages factory was led by Nairobi chief magistrate Francis Andayi. The factory is a designated crime scene.
The factory was closed January last year after a raid by a multi-agency team of police officers and KRA officials in connection with the tax evasion case. It was then put under a 24-hour police protection.
After the initial raid, there have been reports in a section of the media indicating that incriminating evidence was being sneaked out of the company.
Reports further indicate that alcohol and ethanol worth Sh2 billion has disappeared mysteriously from the firm.
Other items believed to have gone missing include the counterfeit excise stamps that were seized by detectives during the January 31, 2019 evening raid.
Andayi ordered the visit last week on Friday. The prosecution had requested for seven more days to allow the Inspector General of Police to make proper plans for adherence to Covid-19 rules, but the court rejected the application.
Inside the factory premises, the lawyer for Wow Beverages, Macmillan Ouma, pointed out to the court that the main gate and an adjacent one did not have customs seals.
The two gates, he notified the court, had fresh welding marks and did not have padlocks.
Ouma also observed that vehicles parked within the compound had been vandalised.
Two other gates on the periphery marked as Gate C and E, however, had customs seals on the inside.
During the court visit, the legal team representing tycoon Kariuki pointed out that part of the electric fence appeared to have been tampered with at Gate E.
Lawyer Cecil Miller told the court that part of the wires were sagging and sought to know if the fence was powered.
The officers at the scene told the court that the electric fence was not powered.
When the court made its way into the factory compound, it was observed that there was fresh welding at the main gate.
Interestingly, there was a welder within the compound complete with a welding machine.
Andayi was informed that the General Service Unit formally took over control of security at the premises on June 24 this year.
The Occurrence Book at the premises contains 38 entries made between June 24 and July 21 this year.
Before GSU officers took over the premises’ security, the factory was guarded by regular police from Thika.
The media was restricted during the visit. Journalists were only allowed inside the factory compound but were shielded from following court officials as they inspected the premises.
Court officials will return to the factory on Friday at 9am to gain entry into the production unit and stores other offices.
Kariuki has been charged with Sh41 billion tax evasion. He denied wrongdoing and was released on Sh15 million bail.
Also, three directors of African Spirits Company were also charged with tax evasion charges.
The three Kepha Githinji Gakure, Robert Thinji Murithi and Peter Njenga Kuria were accused of failing to remit Sh36.5 billion to the Kenya Revenue Authority.
They denied the charges and were released on Sh11 million cash bail each.
Established in 2004, Africa Spirits Limited has brands of Brandy, Gin and Vodka.
Some of their products are Legend Gold Brandy, Blue Moon Vodka, Blue Moon Vodka flavors (Apple, Mango and Ginger), Gypsy King Gin and the Furaha range, among others.
This article was published by The Star on 22nd July 2020.