Businessman Humphrey Kariuki will get his passports back to travel to the United States after a Nairobi court rejected an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions to vary bond terms.
Chief magistrate Francis Andayi upheld an earlier order that requires Kariuki to only present a surety to guarantee his attendance in court in place of the passports.
Kariuki had deposited a cash bail of Sh10 million as a guarantee for his return but the DPP wanted him to supply an additional bond and a surety.
Kariuki’s lawyer Cecil Miller objected the application by the DPP, saying the attempt to vary the bond terms were punitive since the travel documents had been released to him by another court only for the order to be reversed due to a multiplicity of cases in court.
Kariuki had applied for the release of his Kenya and Cypriot passports to travel abroad to tend to his vast business interests.
Mr Andayi ruled that the businessman may have his passports but should return them as soon as he jets back into the country and that he can write to the court anytime he wants to travel next and get approval.
At the same time, Kariuki’s company Africa Spirits Limited asked the court to order the re-opening of its factory based in Thika town.
Mr Miller argued that the fate of over 500 employees hangs in the balance following the closure of the factory in February.
“Investigators have been saying that they are still collecting evidence but that can be done within a day and the factory be re-opened to save the livelihoods of hundreds of employees who are not left destitute,” said Miller.
He argued that the firm alongside WOW Beverages used to remit Sh150 million every month to the taxman and its ironical that they are unable to remit the same yet its shareholders are in court over tax matters.
He said since the prosecution had rushed to charge Kariuki and his co-accused, they should be equally quick to prosecute the case so that the matter could rest.
“The prosecution may want to delay prosecuting this case for even three years which means the status quo will remain with the company closed. That is why it is necessary to re-open it to save the situation,” said Miller.
Kariuki alongside Stuart Gerald, Peter Njenga, Robert Muriithi, Geoffrey Mbobua, Simon Maundu, Kepha Githu, and their two companies Africa Spirits Limited and Wow Beverages Limited were charged with a total of 21 charges in three different files involving the scheme to evade tax.
The charges alleged that they deliberately failed to pay taxes, falsified tax records, omitted records from the Value Added Tax (VAT) and concealed excise stamp duties between February 2016 to December 2018 leading to a tax loss of Sh41 billion.