DPP not ready to prosecute Humphrey Kariuki, court told
The Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji is still not ready to begin the three tax cases against businessman Humphrey Kariuki and five others one year and four months later after they were filed in court.
On Monday, when the accused persons appeared before Milimani Senior principal magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot for the hearing of the case, it emerged that the DPP was not ready as he sought to consolidate the three cases against the accused persons.
"Will not be ready to proceed with the hearing today, tomorrow and Wednesday as l have been directed by the DPP to have the matter mentioned before Milimani Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi on December 22,2020 for the purposes of consolidation of the three cases as the witnesses and exhibits are the same," said the prosecution.
Further, the prosecution said they were not ready with the hearing as they have not amended the charges after late last month they withdrew charges against businessman Stuart Gerald Herd, a former director at WOW beverages under section 87 (a) of the criminal procedure code.
But the defense lawyers led by Kioko kilukumi and Cecil Miller protested the application to have the case adjourned and consolidate saying that the move by the DPP is an abuse of the court process and the accused person's right to a fair hearing.
"It is an abuse of the court process for the DPP to await after one year and four months for him to write to the court on December 4,2020 on his intention to consolidate the three matters,"said Kilukumi.
He urged the court to decline the adjournment sought by the prosecution of Kariuki and order the hearing to proceed as the case has been hanging for over one year and the same has prejudiced his international reputation as a businessman.
"This application is misplaced and is meant to delay the hearing of the cases. The intention of this case is not to get justice but persecute the accused persons," added the defence.
Kilukumi argued that when the accused persons were charged in court on August 9,2019 the DPP in his wisdom opened three different files number 1333,1334 and 1342.
In the case Kariuki is charged alongside Wow Beverages directors Robert Thinji Muriithi and Africa Spirits Directors Peter Njenga Kuria and Geoffrey Kaaria Kinoti where they faced a total of 21 counts of tax evasion of Sh 41 billion.
Among the charges they denied included failing to pay tax,fraud, being in possession of counterfeit excise stamps,being in possession of uncustomised goods, being in possession of excisable goods affixed with counterfeit excise stamps, aiding the commission of a tax offence and forgery . The accused persons are all out on different bails terms of Sh 11 million.
The defence also disputed the prosecution claims that witnesses and exhibits are similar saying that the charges against the accused are different.
Kariuki’s Africa Spirits Limited in Thika was raided in January last year, before he faced charges in August 2019. This month marks one year since the factory was shut, rendering 600 employees jobless.
The charges against the accused persons state that between the tax periods February 1,2019 and December 31,2018 being licensed excise duty manufacturer and registered tax payers the accused persons deliberately failed to bay the requisite taxes of Sh 17,782,553,085 payable to KRA.
They are further accused that on or about January 31,2019 at Africa spirits Limited and Wow Beverages limited premises in Thika town, Kiambu county the accused persons jointly with others not before court conspired to defraud the government of Kenya revenue of Sh 5,704,858 by failing to pay relevant duty for 80 drums of 250 litres each of ethanol found in possession.