Reprieve for billionaire Humphrey Kariuki as court quashes Sh17 billion tax case

Humphrey Kariuki was being charged for Sh17 billion tax evasion

Businessman Humphrey Kariuki

Billionaire businessman Humphrey Kariuki has a reason to smile after the High Court in Milimani quashed tax evasion charges against him.

In a ruling made by Justice Anthony Mrima, the court noted that the prosecution of the tycoon who was facing a Sh17 billion tax evasion case was being handled by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officers instead of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

Kariuki’s defence team led by lawyers Cecil Miller and Paul Muite argued that the charges against their client were not solid as they came from the Director of Criminal Investigations instead of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The DPP had in April last year issued a gazette notice appointing three officers from KRA to prosecute the Humphrey case. Justice Mrima said the case did not have legal basis as the entity charging Kariuki was also undertaking investigations on him.

“It is apparent that the criminal case lacks any legal leg to stand on since the decision to charge was made by the National Police Service who was the investigator. Further, the charges were also drafted by the same investigator and that the prosecution was undertaken by the complainant (KRA),” said the judge.

The court said that KRA could investigate tax offences but had no authority to prosecute them. In 2019, Kariuki alongside Geoffrey Kaaria Kinoti, Simon Maundu, Kepha Githu Gakure, Robert Murithi, Peter Njenga Kuria, Africa Spirits Limited and Wow Beverages Limited were arraigned in court for 11 criminal charges related to tax evasion.

“Once the National Police service conducts and completes any investigations and makes recommendations then unless sanctioned by the DPP to arrest suspects or to undertake further investigations over a matter, that is the end of the role of the NPS in the criminal justice system. The matter is then taken over by the DPP,” he said.

Justice Mrima further said that no court in Milimani law courts will handle cases that are not brought forward by the legal prosecutors.

"No Court in Kenya shall forthwith accept, register and in any manner whatsoever deal with any charge sheets not prepared and signed by any of the unlawful prosecutors,” Mrima said in his judgement.

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