BY GEOFFREY ISAYA
Tabitha Karanja and her husband Joseph Karanja were on Friday released on Ksh. 10million and Ksh. 2million bail respectively.
Appearing before Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi, Mrs. Karanja pleaded not guilty on behalf of Keroche Breweries.
The court noted that the couple’s bail terms would be different taking into consideration Mr. Karanja’s health.
“Joseph Karanja is to pay cash bail Ksh. 2million within seven days while Mrs. Karanja should pay Ksh. 10million immediately, ” Magistrate Andayi said.
The third accused– Keroche Breweries– was ordered to pay Ksh. 10million cash bail within seven days failure to which all the directors will be arrested.
The Magistrate added that the couple are investors of the country and there was no evidence showing that they pose a flight risk.
He however noted that if they wish to travel they will have to confirm with the court and ensure it does not affect subsequent hearings.
Earlier, the Prosecution declared that they would not oppose the couple’s release on bail but asked that the court consider the Ksh. 14billion under investigation.
“Consider if found guilty the sentence is of a fine double the tax evaded or to an imprisonment of ten years or both,” Alexander Muteti said.
He further sought to have the court direct that the two surrender their passports and not leave court jurisdiction.
SUMMONED TO KRA OFFICES
According to him, the accused persons have been aware that the taxman required clarification on the matter as they were summoned to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) offices.
“She (Mrs. Karanja) made an appearance before KRA and as per the letter before the court, KRA went out of their way to engage them,” the Prosecutor added.
He insisted on the gravity of the offence saying it is a condition the court should consider when setting bail.
However, Senior Counsel James Orengo who is representing Keroche, said the Ksh. 14billion is in dispute and there is a statutory process for settling any dispute in relation to tax demand.
The advocate noted that the company directors are presumed innocent and there was no evidence tabled in court showing that the Ksh. 14billion be taken into account in determining bail.
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RELEASED ON HEALTH REASONS
He further opposed the Prosecution’s request to have the couple deposit travel documents saying it won’t be necessary because of the enterprise they run.
The lawyer also revealed that Mr. Karanja cannot be kept in custody due to health reasons.
“He has recently undergone a surgery…police were able to release him before 10 last night (Thursday). Despite his medical condition and being granted a free bond he has been able to appear in court,” Orengo said.
The case will be mentioned on September 2 and the pre-trial hearing on September 24.