Nairobi court finds KRA seals missing at Africa Spirits factory in Thika
A second visit by a Nairobi Court at Africa Spirits Limited factory premises in Thika, Kiambu County on Friday established tampered Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) seals, vandalized alcohol boxes, broken bottles and damaged electric switches.
Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi visited the scene for the second time alongside state counsels, defense lawyers, detectives and KRA officials as part of the hearing into a Sh 41 billion tax evasion case against businessman Humphrey Kariuki and eight others.
On Tuesday last week when the court made its first visit, it was established that one of the gates to the premises had been tampered with. Electric wires were found hanging loose while others appeared to have been pulled out.
Inside the production unit, one of the warehouses identified as A, there was a missing KRA seal that had been used to secure the doors.
The court also found that the doors to the warehouse had been welded together, but it was uncertain when this was done.
Lawyer Cecil Miller who is acting for Kariuki complained that they had not been supplied with an inventory, which would determine the tempering of the scene.
Defence lawyers sought an undertaking from the prosecution and investigating officer if the scene was as it was on 31st January 2019 when the factory was raided in a highly revealed takeover.
The court was informed that there were five warehouses in the premises.
The defense raised the issue with welding at the premises, terming it an intrusion with the crime scene.
The investigating officer told the court that all doors to the warehouses had been welded and had to be unwelded as court waited on Friday for access.
Defence lawyers sought to know on whose instructions welding was done at the premises and whether KRA has consent.
The prosecutor said she was unable to respond and would leave that to the investigating officer.
The court said it would only take note whether there were seals or not and would leave further probing to cross-examination.
An Administration Police officer who was manning the premises died September last year after falling from the factory’s second floor.
Samuel Njogu Mwaura who was recruited to the service in 2007 is reported to have fallen down the staircases of the factory and although reports indicate he was drunk, then Thika Sub County deputy police Commander Bernard Ayoo said police could not ascertain the allegations.
In warehouse A, there were broken electric sockets and switches evident.
The government beefed up security at the firm by changing guard of the premises from the regular police to General Service Unit (GSU) officers after reports that incriminating evidence, in the Sh 41 billion tax evasion case the businessman alongside others are facing, was being sneaked out of the company despite 24-hour guard by police.
Reports had indicated that alcohol and ethanol worth Sh 2 billion disappeared mysteriously from the firm that was closed down in January 2019, marked as a scene of crime and put under a 24-hour police protection.
Other items that have allegedly gone missing include the counterfeit excise stamps which were nabbed by detectives during the January 31, 2019 evening raid.
At the time, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) estimated that the country could lose sh 6 billion if the stamps found their way to the market.