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Billionaire Kariuki held after release on Sh11m cash bail

Humphrey Kariuki
Businessman Humphrey Kariuki. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG 

Businessman Humphrey Kariuki was Monday arrested at Milimani law courts immediately after he was released on cash bail of Sh11 million over charges of tax evasion.

The billionaire, who jetted back into the country on Sunday night according to his lawyer, was escorted by police officers in plainclothes to an unknown destination shortly after he posted his bail to secure his freedom. He was arrested at 5.30pm and was escorted by his lawyer, Kioko Kilukumi.

Mr Kariuki presented himself to court early Monday morning after he was summoned in connection with tax evasion charges, amounting to Sh41 billion.

Milimani chief magistrate Francis Andayi had earlier rejected an application by the prosecution to detain the businessman for a day, to enable the police look at his passports and confirm whether there were exit and entry stamps.

The prosecutor Vincent Monda told the court that the businessman holds a Kenyan and a Cyprus passport and they were yet to confirm whether he was a flight risk.

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But Mr Andayi ordered the businessman and three other accused persons, to deposit cash bail of Sh11 million each after denying 21 counts, among them fraud, tax evasion and aiding tax evasion and possessing excisable goods affixed with counterfeit excise stamps.

The court heard that they were found in possession of reels of counterfeit excise stamps and thousands of assorted bottles of spirits affixed with counterfeit stamps.

It is also alleged that they failed to pay taxes amounting to Sh17.7 billion between February 1, 2016 and December 31, 2018. They also allegedly failed to remit VAT on different dates.

Other accused persons were Wow Beverages directors Stuart Gerald Herd and Simon Maundu, a former production manager at Africa Spirits. The court issued a warrant of arrest of Geoffrey Kaaria Kinoti, after he failed to appear in court as directed.

Other directors of Wow Beverages Robert Thinji Muriithi, Mr Peter Njenga Kuria and Kepha Githu Gakure had denied the charges last week and were released on similar bail terms.

Mr Kilukumi pleaded with the court to free the tycoon on reasonable bail terms, saying he was not a flight risk. He said the businessman brought himself to court after jetting back into the country.

And although summons were issued for him to appear, he learnt of them through press reports, a “demonstration that he is not a flight risk”. He further said he is not a director of Africa Spirits.

Through his lawyer Davis Osiemo, Mr Gerald said was only a director of the company just because his name appears on CR12, a list of company directors.

He said he neither knows the location of the plant or plays any role in the day-to-day running of the company.

He further said he had not received any dividents and pleaded to be freed on lenient bond terms.

A CR12 is an official confirmation letter by the Registrar of Companies as to who are the listed shareholders or directors of a company.

It also confirms that the company’s records exist at the Company Registry.

The case will be mentioned on September 2 and pre-trial held three days later.

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