Kenya: Humphrey Kariuki Gets Reprieve in Dual Citizenship Row

Humphrey Kariuki, the owner Africa Spirits Limited.

The High Court has temporarily suspended a section of the law which specifies punishment for failing to disclose dual citizenship.

Justice James Makau issued the order in a case in which business tycoon Humphrey Kariuki who is facing allegations of evading to pay tax, challenged Section 8(4) of the Immigration Act.

The disputed law states that an individual who fails to disclose his /her dual citizenship within three months is liable to pay a fine of Sh5 million, face three years imprisonment or both.

"A conservatory order be and is hereby issued in public interest and in the end of justice, suspending the continued implementation of prosecution under any act enforcing this law on a Kenyan Citizen in the country or in the diaspora who has acquired dual citizenship," Justice Makau said

TAX EVASION

According to the billionaire who has held the Cypriot passport since May 2016, this law provides no defence or an exception if the stipulated time frame of three months upon getting the second citizenship elapses.

He had told the court that it limits freedom of movement as provided by the Constitution while claiming that he did not keep his dual citizenship status a secret.

He argued that this law is discriminatory as it only targets Kenyans and no other foreign nationals.

The temporary order consequently grants Mr Kariuki a reprieve on being charged over his Cypriot passport.

Mr Kariuki has been questioned by Kenyan detectives for failing to disclose his dual citizenship besides tax evasion claims against his Thika-based Africa Spirits company.

CRIME ABETTOR

Police raided the company's premises and confiscated about 21 million counterfeit excise stamps and 312,000 litres of illicit products valued at Sh1.2 billion.

The Kenya Revenue Authority later on obtained orders freezing 11 accounts associated with the businessman over the alleged evasion amounting to Sh3 billion.

While a Cypriot passport enables one to do business throughout the European Union, since Cyrus is a member, its investor citizenship has of late been criticised for creating a leeway for corrupt individuals, tax evasion and money laundering.

Previously, investors would part with Sh226 million to become Cypriots.

Cyprus has indicated that it intends to tighten its citizenship by investment scheme, which will see tycoons invest Sh282 million in exchange for a passport.

SUED PARTIES

If the changes are implemented, those interested will also be required to make two mandatory donations of Sh8,542,605 each.

Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta are the only countries within EU that grant citizenship by investment without the obligation of physical residence.

He sued the Kenya citizens and foreign nationals' management service and the Attorney General.

Justice Makau also directed the sued parties to respond to the suit before the case comes up on May 25 for further directions.

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