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Tycoon Humphrey Kariuki's firm challenges order freezing its accounts

By Paul Ogemba | Sep 10th 2019 | 3 min read
By Paul Ogemba | September 10th 2019
Businessman Humprey Kariuki in the dock at a Milimani court in Nairobi where he was charged with failing to pay tax. [George Njunge/Standard]

A company owned by tycoon Humphrey Kariuki has moved to court challenging an order freezing its accounts over the Sh41 billion tax evasion claims.

Africa Spirits Limited through lawyer Cecil Miller argued that the orders freezing its nine accounts issued by a Kiambu court last month, was unlawful and meant to cripple its operations after the Director of Public Prosecution failed to link its directors to the tax evasion claims.

The company accused the DPP of acting in bad faith and abusing the court process, arguing that the decision to file the application in Kiambu was to get a magistrate to rule in their favour after a similar application was declined by a magistrate in Nairobi.

“The DPP’s application to freeze the bank accounts was made in Nairobi on August 9 but after the court declined, they went behind with a similar application to Kiambu on August 16 where they got the orders freezing the accounts for 90 days,” said Miller.

The company submitted that the order in Kiambu was issued without other affected parties being enjoined in the case or being notified of the existence of the case contrary to the rules of natural justice.

According to the lawyer, the court in Kiambu was misled to freeze the accounts since the DPP failed to disclose the existence of a similar case before the Milimani High Court.

“The prayers sought did not include the preservation of bank accounts, yet the orders extracted included the preservation of bank accounts of persons not made parties to the application for a period of 90 days,” he argued.

Mr Miller argued that in the interest of justice and fairness, the court should set aside the orders and allow the company to continue with its operations.

He stated that filing three cases in Thika, Nairobi and Kiambu against the same entity is an abuse of court process and meant to harass the businessman and disenfranchise hundreds of people who are likely to be rendered jobless.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Catherine Mwaniki, however, told court that the DPP was not ready to proceed with the case since the magistrates from Nairobi and Kiambu who are listed as respondents in the matter were not represented in court by the Attorney General.

Lady Justice Jessie Lessit gave the DPP five days to file a response and directed the company’s lawyer to serve all parties listed in the suit.

This was the second time the billionaire businessman and his companies were moving to court to save his mega business empires in Thika town after being charged with Sh41 billion tax evasion claims.

Mr Kariuki in his previous application, accused Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) of lying about his multi-billion shilling businesses with the intention of making him lose business opportunities.

According to the businessman, “there is a pre-meditated, well-coordinated and persistent scheme devised by KRA to malign his reputation by bringing up dishonest allegations to obtain orders freezing his companies’ accounts.”

He claimed that the whole saga around the tax evasion case was a plot by his business rivals to cripple his companies through use of state machinery and cause him massive losses.

Justice Lessit scheduled the hearing for September 17.

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