Wanted: Tycoon Humphrey Kariuki believed to be in Zambia

Humphrey Kariuki. [Courtesy]
Authorities believe a tycoon wanted for questioning after a police raid on his business premises in Thika is in Zambia.

Police said they believed Humphrey Kariuki travelled last month to Zambia, where he was reported to have business interests. “We suspect he is still there,” said a senior official in the probe team.

His local associates were said to be seeking legal advice from various lawyers on the way forward. Also wanted are two of his managers.

Mr Kariuki has business interests in East and Central Africa.

SEE ALSO :Court unfreezes billionaire Kariuki’s accounts

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss, George Kinoti, said Kariuki was wanted for questioning in connection with claims of tax evasion.

Police raided Kariuki's Thika-based Africa Spirits Ltd plant and seized ethanol, 312,000 litres of liquor and 21 million Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) stamps that officers said were fake.

The popular brands produced by the plant include Bluemoon vodka, Legend brandy and Glen Rock whiskey.

Through its subsidiary — Wines of the World Beverages — the firm also imports and distributes leading brands of wines and premium whiskey from North America and Europe that include Zappa, Bacardi and Southern Comfort.

KRA Commissioner of Intelligence and Strategic Operations Githii Mburu claimed the plant had not remitted Sh3 billion in taxes every month.

“We found about 21 million counterfeit stamps at the factory. That means the commission would have lost Sh1.2 billion. In one production shift, the amount of tax lost is about Sh93 million,” Mr Githii said.

The Government gets about Sh200 in tax from a litre of ethanol, the main ingredient of alcoholic beverages.

Githii added that for every 20,000 litres of smuggled ethanol, the Government loses about Sh4 million.

Police first raided the factory on February 1 and confiscated the items. Three workers were arrested as others escaped. Those nabbed were presented in court.

Mr Kinoti said investigations into the smuggling of ethanol from Tanzania has been going on.

He warned the Government agencies that have been supervising operations of the factory over the years that they would be held accountable when investigations were complete.

KRA officials said the plant initially operated on Mombasa Road in Nairobi before being moved to Thika in Kiambu County, where it began large-scale production in 2014.

Officials said Kariuki was linked to Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club, Dalbit Petroleum, Great Lakes Africa Energy, The Hub Karen, Africa Spirits Limited and WOW (Wines of the World) Beverages.

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Humphrey KariukiGeorge KinotiAfrica Spirits Ltd