Billionaire tycoon Humphrey Kariuki says his acquittal in a Sh7.4 million tax evasion case is a victory for justice in Kenya.
While acquitting the businessman on Tuesday, Milimani Court Senior Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot said the Director of Public Prosecution failed to produce witnesses, 16 months after the suspect was charged.
The proprietor of Africa Spirits Ltd and WOW Beverages Ltd, both based in Thika, later released a statement maintaining that he is a law-abiding citizen.
“Today our courts in Kenya have acquitted me of unfounded charges as a result of the continued failure of the prosecution to produce evidence. I am a great believer in the strength and independence of the judicial system in Kenya, and I have at all times respected and acted in accordance with the decisions of the courts. Today’s decision is a sign that our courts remain robust and effective and it is a victory for justice in Kenya,” a statement reads in part.
Mr Kariuki said despite the reputational damage that he has faced as a result of “these ill-founded allegations, I have continued to focus on building my businesses across Kenya and other African countries”.
“As a proud and dedicated African businessman, I will continue to invest in my home country, Kenya, and across the continent, firm in the belief that we can strengthen people through sustainable job creation, skills development, and the creation of opportunities to build and develop new markets,” he said.
The businessman has two other tax evasion cases pending before different magistrates.
“I am a law-abiding citizen, and I will continue to comply with the judicial process in the remaining two matters before the courts. I would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and positive sentiment expressed during this whole journey,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has expressed its dissatisfaction with the acquittal.
In a letter addressed to the court, the DPP through prosecuting counsel Carol Sigei requested copies of proceedings of the ruling with the intention to appeal.
“In the interests of justice and given the public interest concerns in the matter, we would be most grateful if we got the handwritten proceedings immediately in order to enable us lodge an appeal and/ or Revision.”
Sigei noted that the typed proceedings should not take more than 14 days to process.