Embattled Kenyan tycoon Humphrey Kariuki on Tuesday stepped down as the Chairman of his group of companies over allegations of evading taxes amounting to billions of shillings.
Kariuki, who has been serving as Chairman of Janus Continental Group (JCG), vowed to fight the tax evasion allegations, which he termed as baseless.
“In light of developments in the investigation process, Humphrey Kariuki recently made the decision to voluntarily stand as Chair of the Board of Janus Continental Group and its associate businesses,” JCG Chief Human Resources Officer Hellen Akello said in a statement.
“Humphrey Kariuki explained that this will allow him to focus his efforts on challenging the baseless claims in courts.”
JCG Managing Director Margaret Mbaka was appointed to take over Kariuki’s role in an interim capacity and will be supported by CEO Rikin Shah.
JCG is an international conglomerate that owns several companies in the energy, hospitality and real estate sectors. The group operates in eight countries and has nine top brands that employ more than 2,000 people.
“We are committed to cooperating with the investigation so that this matter can be resolved quickly,” added the statement.
Last week, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji asked Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to arrest and charge him with tax evasion.
DPP has sought an international warrant of arrest for Kariuki whose whereabouts are still unknown although detectives said he was last seen in London, the United Kingdom after traveling from South Africa.
Police believe the tycoon was headed to Cyprus, a European island country in the Eastern Mediterranean, where he is a citizen.
The State will also be seeking to repossess Kariuki’s assets that include a five-star hotel in Nanyuki, a multi-billion-shilling mall in Nairobi, private planes and more than 80 high-end cars registered under his name.
The billionaire businessman is accused of evading taxes amounting to Sh41 billion through his companies Africa Spirits Limited and Wines of the World (WOW).