Keroche Breweries founder couple to spend night in custody
After spending Wednesday night in their securely guarded offices in Naivasha to avoid arrest, Keroche Breweries founder couple Joseph and Tabitha Karanja were finally arrested at the premises yesterday and driven to Nairobi where they spent the night at the Muthaiga Police Station.
The two are expected to be charged today after the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji on Wednesday approved the charges of evading Sh14 billion tax.
The couple were first taken to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters for pre-charge processing at the Economic and Commercial Crimes Unit.
Their arrest attracted hundreds of residents at the breweries located at Karai area off the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.
The officers drawn from Naivasha and Nairobi camped at the gates of the breweries overnight despite the chilly weather before reinforcement from the DCI headquarters, led by the head of Flying Squad Musa Yego, arrived in the morning.
Keroche lawyers were, mean, while busy in Nairobi hoping to obtain an anticipatory bail for their clients. Their efforts were, however, delayed as the file was moved to Mombasa where judges are attending their annual workshop.
In an application under a certificate of urgency filed in court, the two are seeking to be released on bail.
“The court be pleased to release the applicants on their execution of bond for their appearance upon institution of any criminal proceedings against the applicants in respect of the said allegations,” read the court papers.
Through lawyer Irungu Kang’ata, the Keroche founders say the statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions on directing that they be charged for alleged tax fraud of Sh14 billion had subjected them to mental and psychological torture.
“The decision by DPP is irrational and unfair on the account of being abrupt and made without seeking statements from them to give their side of story,” said Kang’ata, who is the Murang’a Senator.
Earlier, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and traders accused the Kenya Revenue Authority of mistreating Keroche Industries.
Kinyanjui said the taxman and the DCI were out to reduce entrepreneurs to fugitives in their own country.
He said the quest to enhance tax collection must be balanced with the need to protect businesses and jobs.
“We are greatly saddened by the manner in which KRA is treating local investors and in particular how they have treated the Keroche Industries,” he said in a statement.
Kinyanjui said more than 500 employees are directly engaged by the company and thousands of others were indirect beneficiaries.
The employees and their dependents stand to lose if the matter is not handled properly, he added.