Billionaire businessman Humphrey Kariuki who is facing a Sh41 billion tax evasion case has been handed back his two passports by a Nairobi court to enable him travel to attend to his businesses abroad.
Milimani Law Courts senior principal magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot directed the release of the travel documents on grounds that Mr Kariuki had voluntarily availed himself to investigators when he learnt that he was being sought for questioning.
“I find that the accused person presented himself to the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) when required to do so even though he was out of the country at the time,” Mr Cheruiyot stated.
The application for release of the two passports was presented by his lawyer Cecil Miller who is appearing in the case with Ben Nzakyo and Rubeena Dar.
Mr Miller assured the court that Mr Kariuki will always avail himself to the court during trial of the three cases filed against him by the Director of Public Prosecutions. “Mr Kariuki exhibited good conduct by surrendering himself to the DCI when he learnt that he was required to record a statement and eventually be charged,” Mr Miller submitted.
In his ruling, the magistrate stated the court is very much alive to the constitutional requirement that one is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. “I find no reason why Kariuki’s personal business engagements should be restricted,” said Mr Cheruiyot.
The magistrate noted that the prosecution did not oppose the release of the two travel documents to Mr Kariuki who is charged alongside eight others.
The magistrate required Mr Kariuki to avail a surety to stand bail for him and undertake that the accused attends court when required.
The case will he mentioned on September 26.
Mr Kariuki has denied charges of failing to pay Sh41bn in tax, being in possession of 80 drums of 250 litres each of ethanol worth Sh7,402,985 with payment of relevant duty and being in possession of counterfeit excise duty stamps in Thika Town.