'PUNITIVE'

Orders to seize tycoon Humphrey Kariuki's property suspended

Businessman applied saying order was only meant to cripple business for one of his firms Wow Beverages Ltd

In Summary

• Billionaire Kariuki seeks to have Inspector restore any property already seized. 

• Petitioners say properties are not the subject of any of the three cases before Milimani chief magistrate court. 

Investigators from KRA and DCI led by George Kinoti during a raid at Africa Spirits factory in Thika on January 31
'UNJUST': Investigators from KRA and DCI led by George Kinoti during a raid at Africa Spirits factory in Thika on January 31
Image: COURTESY

A Nairobi court has set aside an order for seizure of movable property of companies associated with business tycoon Humphrey Kariuki pending investigations. 

The decision by Milimani resident magistrate Caroline Nzibe followed an application by Kariuki, Africa Spirits Limited and Wow Beverages Limited.

The businessman had moved to court to challenge an order given on August 9, which allowed the seizure of movable assets, saying it has the effect of shutting down, crippling and ruining the operations of Wow Beverages Limited unless it is stayed.

 

Magistrate Nzibe also clarified that the court never gave orders to freeze Kariuki’s account when his lawyer said the accounts were frozen.

“The only orders given were to seize the assets," Nzibe said.

Duty Court issued orders authorising Chief Inspector Peter Oruko to search places building, ships, aircraft (PC12 ZS-TDL) and Bombardier T7-DNK, vehicles, companies and boxes belonging to Kariuki and the two companies. 

They argued that court erred in granting permanent orders to seize, restrain, detain and freeze the property of Kariuki, Africa Spirits and Wow Beverages without hearing the parties affected.

The three also sought Inspector Oruko to be ordered to restore any property that they may have seized, detained, restrained, preserved or frozen.

"The properties are not the subject of any of the three cases before Milimani chief magistrate court; criminal cases numbers 1333, 1334 and 1342 of 2019 as alleged in the application dated August 9," the petitioners said. 

They said a large portion of Wow Beverages assets sought to be seized was acquired well before the proceeds of crimes and Anti-Money Laundering Act came to force and before the period alleged in the criminal case. 

 

Kariuki and other directors of Wow Beverages Limited face Sh41.5 billion tax evasion charges.

The DPP's application was in bad faith, contrary to the administration of justice and usurps powers not vested to him, they said.

“The applicant (DPP) having become aware that the respondents did not take plea on August 9 and that the said plea had been differed to August 19, moved to seize and preserve all their accounts and movable assets so they would be unable to post bond or bail," they said. 

They added that there was no evidence of any risk of dissipation of the assets placed before the court, saying the seizure orders were only meant to shut down the operations of the Wow Beverages unjustly.

They termed the orders excessive, punitive and of unjustified harm, loss, damage and prejudice to Wow Beverages.

Wow Beverages engages exclusively in importation and distribution of finished alcoholic and non-alcoholic products. It is registered for tax purposes under a unique Pin No. P051115864C as provided for in law.

The application will be heard on August 21.

Edited by R.Wamochie