Tycoon Humphrey Kariuki gets back his liquor firm-Africa Spirits Limited

Africa Spirits Limited

Businessman Humphrey Kariuki's Africa Spirits Limited factory in Thika, Kiambu County.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has reopened Thika-based alcohol distiller Africa Spirits Limited owned by tycoon Humphrey Kariuki.

In a statement on Wednesday, KRA said it has handed the factory back to its owners.

“In collaboration with other investigative agencies, KRA has today overseen the handing over of Africa Spirits Limited by DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigation) to the owners. The Authority will facilitate the reopening and operation of the plant,” said KRA.

The KRA has also reopened 26 other firms that had been closed over various tax charges claiming the move will help it boost tax collection.

“The reopening of Africa Spirits Limited aligns with the need for economic development and independence by maximizing revenue collection,” said the taxman.

KRA had closed the firm’s premises in 2019 after finding consignments of fake excise stamps and illicit ethanol at its premises. KRA took Mr Kariuki to court over Sh17 billion tax evasion.

However, the taxman suffered a blow in May after the High Court in Milimani, Nairobi, quashed and prohibited it from prosecuting the tycoon.

Mr Kariuki had been charged together with directors of Wines of the World (WOW) and African Spirits Ltd including Peter Njenga, Robert Thinji Mureithi, Eric Mulwa Nzomba and Kefa Gakure.

Mr Kariuki and his co-accused faced a charge of being in possession of uncustomed goods where the prosecution alleged that he was holding 80 drums of 250 litres each of ethanol valued at Sh7,402,958 without paying tax.

They had also been charged with omitting from the value added tax (VAT) returns of Africa Spirits Limited an amount of Sh2.1 billion and another count of omitting from the return of excise of Sh5.9 billion.

Mr Kariuki is among 12 individuals that were recently appointed by President William Ruto to serve as members of the National Investment Council for a period of three years.

The Council will advise the government and government agencies on ways to increase investment and economic growth in Kenya.

It will also promote co-operation between the public and private sectors in the formulation and implementation of government policies relating to the economy and investment.