City tycoon fights off link in suspected Sh41b tax fraud

Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki. [Standard]
Embattled billionaire Humphrey Kariuki has dissociated himself from management of Africa Spirits, the alcoholic beverage maker at the centre of suspected Sh41 billion tax fraud.

Through London-based lawyers Schillings, the tycoon also claimed Africa Spirits is not one of the companies owned by the Janus Continental Group (JCG).

And in a separate statement, JCG said Mr Kariuki had recently stepped down as chair of the board of the group and its associate businesses.

“Humphrey Kariuki explained that this will allow him to focus his efforts on challenging the claims in the courts,” JCG said in a statement regarding the resignation.

SEE ALSO :Haji gives DCI nod to arrest tycoon Kariuki

Among the businesses owned under JCG is The HUB, the high-end shopping mall in Karen, which had been targeted for seizure by the prosecution in the fraud case.

It is unclear whether detectives had visited the shopping mall, prompting the company to dissociate itself from the troubled distillery.

Kariuki has since been replaced as chairman at JCG by his co-director at Dalbit Petroleum Limited Margaret Mbaka. Assets owned by Dalbit Petroleum, including nine vehicles, are among those also targeted for seizure, according to the court orders given last week.

An arrest warrant was issued but the billionaire is believed is to be in the United Kingdom where one of the wanted private jets was parked last Friday.

Kenya would have to write to the UK, or any other country he might be in, to formally hand him over to face criminal charges.

SEE ALSO :Unmasking Sh14b tax case billionaire Humphrey Kariuki

The DPP directed the arrest and prosecution of Kariuki last Thursday, at a time he is suspected to have been in either South Africa or Mozambique where his other business interests are.

By yesterday, sources within his circles indicated that he was weighing the option of paying up the amounts demanded by the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Further, he is said to been in discussions with his legal counsel on the way forward.

The State is also seeking to seize Kariuki’s pricey Mount Kenya Safari Club, a multi-million-shilling mall, private planes, 89 vehicles and freeze bank accounts of 31 firms linked to him.

Also being sought are 14 directors of the firms associated with the billionaire.

SEE ALSO :How wanted tycoon grew vast empire from a corner eatery

A search warrant was granted by a Milimani Law Courts for detectives to search places, buildings, ships, aircraft, vehicles, bank accounts and companies that Kariuki has a share in following an application by DPP Haji.

Aside from the Africa Spirits where operations were stopped in February, all other businesses, including the hotel, have not been disrupted.

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Humphrey KariukiJanus Continental GroupThe HUBDalbit Petroleum LimitedDPPTax fraud