A Kenyan business tycoon who also holds a Cypriot passport is suing authorities in his native country alleging he is being prosecuted unfairly for not disclosing his dual citizenship.
Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa, the owner of Africa Spirit Limited, became citizen of the Republic of Cyprus in May 2016, when he received a Cypriot passport allowing him to travel and work freely within the European Union.
But Kenyan officials, who have been investigating Kariuki for tax evasion, charge the entrepreneur with immigration offences for failing to disclose his dual citizenship within three months of obtaining his documents.
Earlier this week, Kariuki’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Kenyan immigration department as well as the country’s attorney general, claiming that the law used against him “limits freedom of movement as provided” as it is provided in the constitution.
Kariuki. who is being investigated for tax evasion, is charged with immigration offences for failing to disclose his Cypriot citizenship within three months of obtaining his documents
According to African media, the billionaire views his prosecution as oppressive and unjustifiable as “it involves an administrative issue of disclosure that can be solved through less restrictive means.”
Kariuki is essentially arguing that he has travelled multiple times using his Cypriot passport, which had been stamped in and out of the country without any issue raised by officials.
Africa Spirits was shutdown last month after illegal ethanol and fake Kenya Revenue Authority stamps were found during an inspection on the premises. During the raid, police seized an estimated 21 million counterfeit excise stamps and 312,000 litres of illicit products valued at Sh1.2 billion.
Kariuki’s London-based lawyers said their client had nothing to do with the company’s recent dealings, citing the fact that he held no executive position in the firm.
But later the Kenya Revenue Authority obtained orders freezing 11 accounts associated with the businessman over the alleged evasion of taxes amounting to Sh3 billion. The accounts are scattered in seven banks and are reportedly linked to three companies associated with the tycoon.
Kariuki has cried foul over the case against him, saying he wants to try and get the dual-citizenship law suspended and ultimately deemed unconstitutional, arguing it limits freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The billionaire also says the three-month disclosure requirement is set up in such a way that it fails to provide any late-period alternatives if the timeframe elapses. He also argued that the law can affect a number of Kenyans who live, work, study or do business abroad and have acquired such citizenship by virtue of their long residency outside Kenya.