Profiles

Galot: Tycoon hounded by disputes and legal battles

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London Distillers director Mohan Galot. NMG PHOTO

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Summary

  • Tycoon Mohan Galot is not new to controversy.
  • The man, who runs a multi-million-shilling empire, has been in the corridors of justice for years fighting various court battles.
  • If not legal battles with his nephews, who have accused him of kicking them out of the family-owned companies, Mr Galot has been fighting a construction company — Erdemann Property Ltd — over a Sh3.2 billion housing estate in Athi River.

Tycoon Mohan Galot is not new to controversy.

The man, who runs a multi-million-shilling empire, has been in the corridors of justice for years fighting various court battles.

If not legal battles with his nephews, who have accused him of kicking them out of the family-owned companies, Mr Galot has been fighting a construction company — Erdemann Property Ltd — over a Sh3.2 billion housing estate in Athi River, some 28 kilometres south of Nairobi.

At the centre of a long-drawn-out legal fight with his nephews — Pravin and Rajesh — is the fight for the control of Galot Industries, Manchester Outfitters, King Woolen Mills, Mohan Meakin, London Distillers Kenya Ltd and MG Park.

The companies deal in real estate, shares, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage distillery, bottling and sale, as well as fabric and cloth making.

On Wednesday, the businessman sat quietly in court as the prosecution read out 18 counts related to tax evasion. The prosecution alleged that Mr Galot and London Distillers Kenya were involved in tax evasion amounting to Sh2 billion.

It is alleged that the distiller, which makes Kenya King, Napolean and Safari Cane, and its director devised a scheme of evading taxes, including excise duty on locally manufactured spirits, value-added tax and corporate tax.

According to the charges, the company was involved in a scheme of gross under-reporting of production and sales volumes and the purchase of packaging materials through associated companies.

One of the charges stated that the distiller purchased 272,989,752 bottles and the finished product volumes produced and omitted using the purchased bottles some 7,941,539 litres with an equivalent excise duty of Sh1.4 billion.

It was alleged that the company omitted from tax returns production volumes and sales amounts, which ought to have been included contrary to sections of the Tax Procedures Act, and failure to pay taxes.

The prosecution alleges that between January 2016 and December 2018 the company activated some 1,610,150 stamps in the EGMS system, which represented a production equivalent of 527,250 litres. The taxpayer, however, declared and paid taxes on only 359,162 litres, therefore, evading tax.

In 2017, the company allegedly failed to pay taxes amounting to Sh226 million, while the following year, London Distillers Kenya is said to have failed to pay taxes amounting to Sh814 million.

Mr Galot denied all the charges and was ordered to deposit cash bail of Sh1 million to secure his release.

Back to the family business, the nephews had a few years ago managed to have Mr Galot charged with several counts. They accused him of interfering with the particulars of directors and shareholders of two family companies, Kings Woolen Mills and Mohan Meakin.

The fallout provoked the long-running legal disputes involving the control and management of lucrative companies.

Pravin and Rajesh took him to court protesting their removal from the directorship of the firms. But Mr Galot defended himself saying he invited his nephews to join the family enterprises as directors but kicked them out when they allegedly registered parallel companies in a bid to take over the businesses.

The nephews were equally to be charged with forgery, but they managed to stop their prosecution last year.

Mr Galot claimed that the two forged company resolutions, minutes, letters and that they have continued to file parallel annual returns. He further accuses the two of illegally appointing themselves as directors of Galot Industries Limited.

The Director of Public Prosecutions was ready to charge them but they moved to the High Court, alleging bias.

The tycoon’s fight with Erdemann was initially filed before the Environment and Land Court but the matter was transferred to the National Environment Tribunal.

In this case, London Distillers Kenya challenged the construction of 688 residential housing units in Athi River, Machakos County.

The distiller wanted the tribunal to stop the project, known as Great Wall Gardens Housing Phase 3, arguing that the houses were barely 20 metres from its alcohol distilling plant. The company argued that there was the potential of future conflicts between it and occupants of the housing units due to industrial emissions.

The row earlier this year also sucked in the National Assembly after Mr Galot claimed that some MPs had received bribes in the form of free and subsidised homes from a real estate firm to push for the closure of London Distillers Kenya.

The alcohol manufacturer wrote to House Speaker Justin Muturi seeking an inquiry into the bribery claims against members of the Committee on Implementation of House Resolutions.

The accusations stem from the parliamentary inquiry into London Distillers Kenya for polluting the environment through toxic emissions and dumping of raw waste into Athi River following complaints by its neighbour, Erdemann Property.

London Distillers Kenya claimed that lawmakers had been offered free houses to rule against it.

“We would, therefore, request that you order for an inquiry to be conducted to ascertain whether the confidential information we have received that several members of the committee have acquired houses either freely or over subsidised rate through proxies, being family members, relatives or companies in which they have interests, [which] could have led to a clear conflict of interest displayed,” said Mr Galot, the London Distillers Kenya chairman, in a letter to Mr Muturi.