Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki on the run over manufacture of toxic drinks & tax evasion
Kenyan authorities have launched a manhunt for multi-millionaire businessman Humphrey Kariuki on allegations of evading taxes of more than $30 million and smuggling substandard ethanol products into the country.
On Thursday, the Kenyan Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) raided the Thika-based offices of Africa Spirits Limited, a company owned by the businessman, where they found smuggled ethanol, 312,000 liters of illicit liquor and 21 million fake Kenya Revenue Authority stamps.
“We found about 21 million counterfeit stamps at the factory. That means the commission would have lost Sh1.2 billion. In one production shift, the amount of tax lost is about Sh93 million,” Mr Githii said.
The DCI alleges that Africa Spirits has been smuggling ethanol of questionable quality which has been used to produce some of its popular vodka, gin, and whisky brands which the DCI says is unfit for human consumption. The Kenya Revenue Authority also alleges that the company has failed to remit more than $30 million in taxes. The authorities have since arrested and detained a production manager at the factory to facilitate further investigation.
The factory has since been shut down. According to a report by the Star newspaper, Kariuki and his key employees went into hiding on receiving news that detectives from the DCI and the police service had raided the beverage company’s offices. Kariuki has been in hiding ever since.
According to the standard newspaper, Police said they believed Humphrey Kariuki travelled last month to Zambia, where he was reported to have business interests. “We suspect he is still there,” said a senior official in the probe team.
His local associates were said to be seeking legal advice from various lawyers on the way forward. Also wanted are two of his managers.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss, George Kinoti, said Kariuki was wanted for questioning in connection with claims of tax evasion.