Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki’s troubles seemed to deepen Tuesday when the Kenya Revenue Authority and police said a liquor firm associated with him could have dodged taxes amounting to Sh6 billion.
The money was calculated based on the number of stamps that African Spirits Ltd officially picked up from the KRA over the years but it has yet to remit the taxes from the products sold.
Mr Kariuki’s London-based lawyers describe him as a “venture investor” and say he neither holds directorship nor managerial positions at the company.
On Tuesday, Mr Kariuki drove once again to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Kiambu Road for interrogation — spending several hours with sleuths who want to unpack his life and shed light on a company he has invested hundreds of millions of shillings in.
The detectives are not only concerned with his Cypriot passport — number K0627485, which was issued on May 19, 2016 and which he has not handed in, according to DCI head George Kinoti — but also on four Kenyan passports the billionaire has held.
“We want to have a history of his movements and check when they expired — if they have,” Mr Kinoti said.
“We have given him up to Wednesday to bring them.”
Last week, Mr Kinoti told the Nation that records from the Immigration Department indicate that the Blue Moon vodka billionaire did not inform the government about his dual citizenship as required by the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act.
According to the law, one is to declare and record his or her acquired citizenship in the prescribed manner within three months of becoming a dual citizen.
The law further says that anyone who fails to disclose the dual citizenship “commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both”.
The tycoon’s troubles started after the discovery of smuggled ethanol, some 312,000 litres of illicit liquor and 21 million fake KRA stamps at the Thika-based African Spirits Ltd on January 31.
In a statement published on the company’s website, African Spirits admitted that KRA is investigating a “tax dispute”.
And in a statement to stakeholders, the firm said KRA sealed Africa Spirits after launching an investigation “into an alleged tax dispute”.
“We are shocked to hear of these allegations and we have contacted and are closely cooperating with relevant authorities to ensure we get to the bottom of this matter,” the statement said.
“In the meantime, we are doing everything in our power to ensure that we can return to business as soon as possible.”
Detectives handling the case say the closure of the factory could “take some time” and that the investigations could also focus on the printers of the stamps.
“Apart from the KRA barcode which is missing, everything else — quality and texture — looks similar to the official stamps. We have sent them to forensic experts,” Mr Kinoti said. On Tuesday, several senior African Spirits managers, who disappeared after the police raid, reported to the DCI headquarters.
They were interrogated for several hours before being driven to the factory, where detectives and KRA officers started scrutinising documents at the procurement and sales department.
“In the interim, what we have found is that the amount of taxes paid to KRA is not in tandem with the production,” Mr Kinoti, who led the January 31 raid at the factory, told journalists.
Interestingly, none of the African Spirits senior managers has disclosed where the KRA stamps came from.
By Tuesday evening, detectives were checking import records at the factory in a bid to determine their source.
Last year, KRA officials said counterfeit stamps were the number one source of lost revenue.
During the raid in Thika, police seized an estimated 21 million counterfeit excise stamps and 312,000 litres of illicit products valued at Sh1.2 billion.