Three directors of an alcohol and beverage company on Friday denied tax evasion charges.
Appearing before Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, the Directors of African Spirits company were accused of failing to remit Sh36.5 billion to the Kenya Revenue Authority.
The three, Mr Kepha Githinji Gakure, Mr Robert Thinji Murithi and Mr Peter Njenga Kuria were released on Sh11 million cash bail each after defence lawyers Ben Nzakyo, Edward Oonge, Rubeen Dar and Cecil Miller urged the court to do so. The case will be mentioned on September 5, 2019.
Mr Andayi directed billionaire Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa, who is on a business trip overseas, and five others to appear in court on August 19 to plead to tax evasion and fraud charges filed against them by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Both Oonge and Nzakyo said the bail amounts will be challenged when the case is heard.
“The factories of ASL and Wow Beverages Limited were closed down by officers from the KRA and Directorate of Criminal Investigations on January 31 2019,” Mr Oonge stated.
Mr Nzakyo opposed a bail requirement by DPP that the all accused be restrained from visiting the ASL and Wow factories.
“I urge this court to release the suspects on reasonable bail terms since they are jobless,” Mr Nzakyo told the court.
Ms Dar said all the accused have been visiting the offices of the DCI to record statements for the last seven months.
She urged the magistrate to admit the suspects on free bond in two of the three cases filed against them by the DPP.
“The suspects are not a flight risk and they will attend court when required,” Ms Dar and Mr Miller urged the court.
The state prosecutor did not oppose the bail pleas but urged the court to set stringent terms given the amounts involved.
He urged the court to order the suspects to deposit their travel documents in court.
He said the penalty attracted by the offences is three years jail term or a fine three times the value of the dutiable goods.
Mr Ndegwa and the seven others are charged with deliberately failing to pay duty amounting to Sh17,782,553,085 to the commissioner of domestic tax between February 1 2016 and December 3, 2018.
They faced six counts of fraud. They also face two counts of being in possession of 80 drums of ethanol valued at Sh7,402,958 whose duty they never paid.
They have also been charged with being in possession of 529,980 assorted alcoholic beverages packed in 17,666 carton affixed with counterfeit excise stamps at Thika in Kiambu County on January 30, 2018.
Andayi heard Justice Luka Kimaru had barred the DCI, DPP and the Inspector General of Police from arresting and charging Geoffrey Kaaria Kinoti Mbobua over the tax evasion.