Court visit to Humphrey Kariuki’s Thika liquor firm reveals massive theft, vandalism

Court visit to Humphrey Kariuki’s Thika liquor firm reveals massive theft, vandalism

The visit by a Nairobi court to a firm associated with business mogul Humphrey Kariuki in Thika has revealed massive theft of properties and vandalism.

The visit at Africa Spirits Limited and Wow Beverages Company on Friday was led by Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi.

The visit was prompted by reports of theft and tampering of evidence in the sh 41 billion tax evasion case the businessman is facing.

During the visit, it was revealed that Kenya Revenue Authority seals were missing, alcohol boxes had been broken, broken beer bottles were seen and electric switches had been damaged.

Also evident during the visit was missing computers, TV sets, and drums of ethanol.

During the January 31, 2019 raid, the police confiscated 22,000 liters of ethanol suspected to be from Tanzania that was stored in 80 drums. Also an estimated 21 million counterfeit excise stamps were seized.

It was also revealed that the server room was forcibly broken into and machines vandalized. CCTV cameras were also wrecked.

Defence lawyers also noticed water bottles with 2020 manufacture dates in rooms that were supposedly sealed from last year. The factory was closed down in January 31, 2019 and designated as a crime scene and put under 24 hour state surveillance.

In one of the warehouses identified as A, it was established that a Kenya Revenue Authority customs seal that had been used to secure the doors was missing.

It also emerged that the doors to the warehouse had been welded together, but it was unclear when this was done.

Lawyers Cecil Miller and Kioko Kilukumi who are acting for businessman Humphrey Kariuki complained that they had not been supplied with an inventory, which would determine tempering of the scene.

The Defence lawyers sought an undertaking from the prosecution and investigating officer if the scene was as it was on January 31, 2019 when the factory was raided and closed down.

The court was informed that there were five warehouses in the premises.

The defense raised issue with welding at the premises, terming it an interference with the crime scene.

The investigating officer in the case told the court that all doors to the warehouses had been welded and had to be unwelded as court waited on Friday for access.

Defence lawyers sought to know on whose instructions welding was done at the premises and whether KRA have consent.

The prosecution failed to respond to the defence lawyers and instead left the investigating officer to respond to the queries raised.

The court said it would only take note whether there were seals or not, and would leave further probing to cross-examination.

It was at warehouse A where a suspected death and theft occurred and defense lawyers sought to know whether the alleged officer who died was in a warehouse that had been sealed.

On August 31, 2019, an administration police officer who was allegedly drunk on duty died at the facility. Police however denied that he was drunk and only indicated that he tripped on the stairs and was pronounced dead on arrival at Thika Level V Hospital.

In warehouse A, there were broken electric sockets and switches evident.

The court made its first public visit to the factory on Tuesday to ascertain the state of the premises which is now a crime scene.

Kariuki is out on a sh 15 million cash bail after denying charges of evading to pay taxes amounting to sh 41 billion.

Also, three directors of African Spirits Company were also charged with tax evasion charges.

The three, Mr Kepha Githinji Gakure, Mr Robert Thinji Murithi and Mr Peter Njenga Kuria were accused of failing to remit Sh36.5 billion to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

They denied the charges and were released on Sh11 million cash bail each.

Established in 2004, Africa Spirits Limited has brands of Brandy, Gin and Vodka.

Some of their products are Legend Gold Brandy, Blue moon Vodka, Blue Moon Vodka flavors (Apple, Mango & Ginger), Gypsy King Gin and The Furaha Range among others.

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