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Court visits Humphrey Kariuki's factory in Sh41bn tax evasion probe

Tuesday July 21 2020
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Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki at the Milimani Law Courts on February 26, 2020 over a Sh41 billion tax evaion case. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SIMON CIURI

A court session at Africa Spirits’ liquor plant in Thika on Monday established that one of the gates leading to the premises was tampered with.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi visited the scene as part of the hearing into a Sh41 billion tax evasion case against reclusive billionaire Humphrey Kariuki and eight others.

Investigators believe at least 40 per cent of the court exhibits within the plant, which include Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) stamps, have been stolen.

Some of the stamps valued at Sh5 million are reportedly being used by another factory in Ruaraka.

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Loose wires at billionaire Humphrey Kariuki's Africa Spirits factory as pictured on July 21, 2020. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

POLICE TAMPERING

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Addressing the court before leading the fact-finding tour of the facility, Mr Andayi said the tour was aimed at making observations regarding claims by the defence that police tampered with the location marked as a crime scene.

Officers from Thika Police Station, who had been  guarding the facility, were replaced.

"This is not an investigation. We are here to make observations on whether there were any break-in," the magistrate said.

Mr Andayi visited the plant with State counsels, defence lawyers, KRA officials and investigating officers.

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Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi, State counsels, defence lawyers, KRA officials and investigating officers during a tour billionaire Humphrey Kariuki's Africa Spirits factory on July 21, 2020. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LOOSE WIRES

The team observed that the perimeter wall and electric fence around the property were intact, save for the wires at Gate 'E'.

The seven wires on top of the right side of the 12-foot wide gate were hanging loose and some appeared to have been pulled out. The gate leads to an unbuilt space adjacent to the plant.

At the main gate there was evidence of fresh welding on two metallic shutters while Gate 'B' also appeared to have been welded recently to block entrance.

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Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi, State counsels, defence lawyers, KRA officials and investigating officers during a tour billionaire Humphrey Kariuki's Africa Spirits factory on July 21, 2020. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Advocates Mwangi K. M. and Cecil Miller drew the attention of the court to the anomaly, saying the damage at the gate was crucial to claims by the defence that exhibits worth millions of shillings, including alcohol and ethanol, were secretly ferried from the plant.

The team also visited the ablution block to ascertain whether there was a way through. It found empty bottles, some with Africa Spirits labels including Blue Moon Vodka and debris.

Cartons, old pallets and broken bottles also lay at the premises which measures about 15 acres.

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