The High Court has dealt a major blow to the fight against tax evasion, ruling that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has no authority to investigate alleged tax cheats.
Justice Luka Kimaru ruled that under the tax laws, it is only the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) that is mandated to investigate and prosecute cases of tax evasion or instruct the Asset Recovery Authority to institute recovery of taxes.
Justice Kimaru made the ruling in a case in which billionaire businessman Humphrey Kariuki's companies have challenged an order obtained by DCI officers to investigate and freeze their accounts.
"It is evident that there was an element of jurisdictional overreach by the DCI on matters which are statutorily under the jurisdiction of KRA and the Asset Recovery Authority. In the performance of its duties, the DCI must respect the authority of other institutions," ruled the judge.
Justice Kimaru also upheld an order directing the unfreezing of several bank accounts of Mr Kariuki's companies, noting that the order to freeze the bank accounts was obtained illegally since it was never sought in the application lodged by the DCI.
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