A Nairobi court on Thursday extended orders barring the government from detaining all movable assets of embattled Thika billionaire Humprey Kariuki over tax row.
In the ruling, Nairobi Chief Magistrate Caroline Nzibe further barred the state from detaining assets attached to African spirits and WoW beverages Limited pending the hearing of the case.
The Directorate of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji last week ordered the arrest and prosecution of the billionaire over Ksh41 billion tax evasion.
On the same day, the court ordered the seizing of Kariuki’s assets.
Some of the assets the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) sought to repossess include famous five star Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki, The Hub Karen Mall in Nairobi, private planes and more than 80 high-end vehicles registered under Kariuki’s name.
The DCI is said to have so far seized two vehicles and an aircraft in Laikipia.
The billionaire, through his lawyer Benjamin Musyoki, filed an application to challenge the move.
In an argument in court on Thursday, Musyoki stated that the freezing order may result in the “shut-down, crippling and even thwarting of his other business, Wow Beverages Limited”.
“In view of the grave excessive, punitive and unjustified harm loss, damage and prejudice, Wow suffers the loss of business,” he argued.
The lawyer further said the freezing orders were issued in bad faith since Kariuki did not take plea on Friday, August 9.
“There is no evidence of any risk or dissipation of any of the assets placed before court which include aeroplanes, ships and other immovable properties,” said Musyoki.
Kariuki, who police say is in London, stepped down as the chairman of Janus Continental Group (JCG) on Tuesday.
He stated that stepping aside will give him time to focus on the case.
“In light of developments in the investigation process, Humphrey Kariuki recently made the decision to voluntarily stand aside as Chair of the Board of Janus Continental Group and its associate businesses,” reads a statement from Hellen Akello, the Chief Human Resources Officer.
“Humphrey Kariuki explained that this will allow him to focus his efforts on challenging the baseless claims in courts.
The court ordered the billionaire to appear in court on Monday, August 19 even as the DPP seeks an international warrant of arrest against him.