A company is seeking the unfreezing of the bank accounts of nine companies associated with billionaire businessman Humphrey Kariuki, who has been charged with evading taxes amounting to Sh 41 billion.
Africa Spirits Ltd (ASL) argues in the case filed at the Milimani High Courts that the freezing of the companies’ accounts at National Bank of Kenya and KCB threatens the jobs of more than 3,000 employees.
“The companies face imminent closure and over 3,000 workers laid off as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) moved to have the accounts preserved without any prior notification,” the firm’s lawyer Cecil Miller told Justice Jessie Lessit.
The companies are Wow Beverages, Dalbit Petroleum Ltd, Rhine Hart Ltd, Section Investments Ltd, Janus Continental Group Ltd, Belgravia Construction Ltd, Azalea Holdings Ltd and Kisima Management Company Ltd.
Mr Miller told the judge that the DPP acted in bad faith because he obtained the freeze orders from the Kiambu chief magistrate’s court without disclosing that the same application had been rejected by the chief magistrate’s court in Milimani.
The court heard that the orders are illegal, incorrect and a violation of the rights of the companies that have not been charged in court.
ASL says the DPP shopped for a court that would grant the freeze and went to Kiambu on August 16 to press for the orders after being rebuffed on August 9 by a Milimani court.
ASL has named the DPP, the Inspector-General Police Service as the respondents with Wow Beverages, National Bank, KCB, and the chief magistrate courts of Kiambu, Thika and Milimani as interested parties.
ASL is urging the High Court to lift the 90-day freeze orders.
The company claims the DPP has filed three similar cases in two different courts thus showing malice and ulterior motives.
It urged the court to stop any implementation of the order to enable it to mitigate “the ruinous, prejudicial and detrimental harm, loss and damage” to the nine companies whose accounts were frozen.
ASL is also seeking to stop the Sh41 billion tax evasion case against it, Wow Beverages, Mr Kariuki and six other employees.
In the case filed under a certificate of urgency, it seeks to stop the trial of two other cases filed against the nine suspects at the Milimani Law Courts and a similar case filed at the Thika chief magistrate’s court on the same subject as the Milimani cases.
The hearing is on September 17.