Prosecution faulted as billionaire Humphrey Kariuki’s case stalls again

The court was once again unable to set a hearing date for the Sh41 billion tax evasion case against businessman Humphrey Kariuki.

This was after the defence accused the prosecution of failing to comply with a court order asking them to supply documents to the defence.

Lawyer Kioko Kilukumi, representing Kariuki alongside Cecil Miller, told the court they had been supplied with contradictory witness statements.

“We got an inventory with 28 witnesses but were supplied with statements from seven witnesses. We do not have statements of 21 witnesses,” Kilukumi told the court.

On Tuesday, Kariuki’s defence informed the court that the DPP’s office indicated that it would require them to make site visits at Africa Spirits Limited, Kenya Revenue Authority and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, where exhibits are held.

However, defence lawyer Wilfred Nderitu opposed the site visits, arguing that it was not proper at this stage for KRA, which is the complainant, to be holding evidence at this stage.

But the prosecution clarified that all the evidence in the case was being held at the DCI.

Africa Spirits Limited in Thika was raided in January last year before Kariuki faced charges eight months later. This month marks one year since the factory was shut, rendering 600 employees jobless.

Defence lawyer Rubeena Dar told magistrate Martha Mutuku that when she visited the DCI offices for verification, she did not find the original documents as the court had directed.

She further told the court that the bundle of documents supplied contained documents from Keroche Industries, whose directors are facing a similar case.

The defence lawyers argued that the documents supplied should be consistent for all accused persons since they were facing similar charges.

The magistrate took issue with the prosecution for failing to supply the court with a list of witnesses, their statements and exhibits to be used.

The matter will be mentioned on February 26.

In a previous court appearance, lawyer Miller told High Court judge Luka Kimaru that KRA was losing over Sh76 million monthly in taxes that Africa Spirits Limited used to remit, which amounts to almost Sh1 billion in lost revenue so far.

In the months following the closure of the factory, a policeman died at the premises while break-ins have been reported with the latest being by two people who were charged with theft this week. The premises are guarded by the police.

This article was published by the STAR on January 14, 2020