Key exhibits in billionaire Humphrey Kariuki’s Ksh41 billion tax evasion case recently disappeared into thin air from the businessman’s Thika warehouse.
The mysterious disappearance of Ksh2 billion alcohol has thrown investigations into the case into disarray with both police and Kariuki’s handlers pointing an accusing finger at each other.
Also missing is an unknown amount of ethanol with Kariuki’s representatives denying having any knowledge of the disappearance of the evidence.
The Standard reports that the theft was discovered two weeks ago by a multi-agency team comprising officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the National Intelligence Service (NIS) as well as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) who had been charged with the role of securing the property that housed the exhibits since August 209.
On the fateful day, some of the officers from the team, who were conducting routine checks, walked into an empty warehouse.
Interestingly, there were no signs of forced entry as no doors were broken nor window grilles cut. Everything seemed to be in order save for the missing alcohol and ethanol.
This writer understands that before the mysterious disappearance of the exhibits, the routine checks were initially meant to be conducted on a weekly basis.
But the arrangement later changed towards the end of last year and the guards resorted to monthly patrols after officers from Thika Police Station were deployed to guard the premises.
The men in uniform were under strict instructions not to allow anyone in or out without express permission from their seniors.
The police guarding the premises did not have access to the plant and reviews of the contents of the premise were only done by members of the multi-agency security team assigned to the case.
Only officers from the DCI had keys to the warehouse where the exhibits were kept. This was to make it hard for any member of the multi-agency team who attempted to access the factory without informing other parties.
To prevent further unauthorised access, KRA officers were responsible for the security seals on the doors. This meant that anyone seeking to gain access into the warehouse had to inform KRA and DCI officers.
Practically, one of the ways one would have used to gain access to the facility was to use force. This includes jumping through an eight-foot stone perimeter wall to either bring down the reinforced steel doors or cut through the window grills.
The alternative would be to shoot their way through the armed guards before making their way into the warehouse by cutting through the windows or bringing down the steel doors.
None of this happened as there were no signs of forced entry or shootout raising serious questions on who was behind the heist.
The person behind the theft simply walked into the warehouse loaded the exhibits and drove off.
After the heist, Kiambu DCI boss Jeremiah Ikiao was reportedly instructed to open an investigation into the missing exhibits.
Kariuki, through his lawyer Kioko Kilukumi, yesterday confirmed that the exhibits were missing.
“I have heard that some police officers were taken to court for either consuming or stealing alcohol from the warehouse. I’m yet to get anything more,” Kilukumi told the Standard.
The factory was declared a crime scene on January 31, 2019, after DCI officers raided it in search of contraband goods and what they termed as fake KRA stamps.
Kariuki was arraigned and charged alongside his eight members of staff with tax evasion.
It’s alleged that the business mogul, who owns Africa Spirits Limited/WOW Beverages Limited, had evaded the payment of tax between 2014 and 2019.
The case is ongoing but the disappearance of the exhibits might just send the detectives probing the matter back to the drawing board.