Nokia faces suit for illegal Kenyan firm tax records


Milimani Law Courts. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Mobile manufacturer Nokia Corporation faces a legal suit after a Kenyan company was allowed to privately prosecute directors of the giant company for illegally obtaining its tax information for use before an international arbitration court.

A Nairobi court gave Technoservice Ltd the nod to privately prosecute Nokia Corporation and its agents Roschier Attorneys LTS, Rajee Suri and Aapo Saariviti, for unlawfully obtaining its tax filings and records from the Registrar of Companies.

The company complained that Nokia used the information in a case that was pending before the ICC Court of Arbitration pitting the two firms.

The case was later withdrawn, according to court documents.

The local court noted that despite lodging a complaint with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in December 2018, no steps have been taken to prosecute Nokia or its agents.

Tax filings

“Tax records are confidential, yet it would appear that the applicant’s tax filings were disclosed to the respondents or their representatives who were able to use the records in the ICC arbitration,” Principal Magistrate Esther Kimilu said.

She added, “It is therefore confounding why the DPP despite admitting of being aware of the complaint had never taken steps either to direct its investigations or in the alternative prosecuting it anyway.”

Ms Kimilu directed Technoservice file a draft charge sheet within 30 days and said the DPP is free to take over the proceedings, after it has been filed.

The court heard that Nokia or its agents obtained the information from Registrar of Companies and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) between September 2018 and March 2019.

The company alleged that Nokia obtained the information for purposes of defeating justice in the arbitration proceedings. Thereafter, the company through its director Bulent Gulabahar- lodged a complaint with the DCI and the DPP.

Diplomatic means

Nokia challenged the claims saying the filings were defective and that they were foreigners and therefore required to be served by diplomatic means.

The court further heard that the case was an abuse of court process because the arbitration before ICC was withdrawn in February.

Nokia also said Technoservice was litigious and the case was a demonstration of its owner’s vindictive attitude against Nokia.

The DCI acknowledged receiving the complaint but said the matter could not proceed because Mr Gulabahar failed to turn up to record statements.

The Kenyan company had in a separate case accused Nokia of breaching a partnership contract signed between the companies in 2006.