A court has barred the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from tracing and seizing assets and companies associated with tycoon Humphrey Kariuki who is facing a Sh41 billion tax evasion case.
Milimani senior principal magistrate Elector Riany declined the request by the two agencies to be allowed to pursue the assets and properties of alcohol manufacturer Africa Spirits Limited (ASL) and Wow Beverages Limited (WBL) which are based in Thika, Kiambu County.
The DCI has also been stopped from tracing and seizing assets of ASL and WBL or properties of Mr Kariuki or companies and his business associates based on orders given by a Kiambu Court on Agust 9 2019 which the businessman’s lawyer Cecil Miller said had been altered.
In rejecting the plea by DCI, the judge agreed with the High Court’s earlier decision to bar the defendants (DCI, DPP and Kenya Revenue Authority) from attaching the businessman’s assets.
In the earlier ruling delivered by Justice Luka Kimaru , the DCI was barred from pursuing tax related investigations in ASL and WBL. The judge said the matter was not within his purview unless invited by KRA to assist.
“KRA is legally clothed with powers to investigate and prosecute any tax violations,” ruled Justice Kimaru.
The judge said the law opens a window for KRA to invite the police when necessary but not for police to indulge in investigating tax issues.
Opposing the plea by the government agencies, Mr Kariuki’s lawyers told the magistrate that orders obtained from a Kiambu Court were abused as police altered it to include a prayer of freezing ASL and WBL bank accounts.
The DCI through the DPP had applied to trace and seize assets belonging to WOW, ASL and companies and persons affiliated to Mr Kariuki alleging huge sums of monies were about to be moved from the companies accounts.
The magistrate further allowed the application by WBL/ASL of August 13, 2019 to set aside the orders initially obtained by the DPP to freeze bank accounts held in Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and the National Bank of Kenya (NBK).
The court, nonetheless told the DCI and DPP to pursue any other relief provided they follow the law and correct procedure.