The fate of Billionaire businessman Humphrey Kariuki is unknown after Cyprus, his country of refuge, ended the Citizenship-for-investment program following an expose by global news channel Al Jazeera.
Kariuki is a dual citizen of Kenya and Cyprus.
In Cyprus Papers, Al Jazeera documented how the programme which allows foreigners to take citizenship in the island nation after paying USD2.5 million (Sh270 million approximately) has been abused.
“Analysis by the investigative team found out that over 50 individuals who bought passports would have been rejected for being high-risk due to criminality and dirty money”, Aljazeera observed.
Further, Al Jazeera revealed how high-ranking politicians were willing to issue passports to convicted criminals.
The scheme attracted and okayed over 2500 foreigners from over 70 countries who brought in billions of Euros to the country, that have mostly been invested in real estate.
Tycoon Humphrey Kariuki in some accounts has flouted some rules that one is supposed to uphold so as to maintain citizenship. Some of the rules include, ‘citizenship must not be ontained by fraud, a citizen must not disgrace the nation (Cyprus), in the first 10 years after gaining citizenship, one must not be convicted of crime or wanted by international police (InterPol).
Some members of the European Union criticized the programme saying it was giving criminal easy access to launder money through European financial systems.
In the 1440 documents released by Al Jazeera, Cyprus was found to have granted citizenship to criminals convicted in their home countries and people wanted by Interpol in the previous years.
In 2019, Mr Kariuki was accused of tax evasion to the tune of Sh41 billion.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) preferred charges to that effect after a raid by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to the premises of African Spirits, a company owned by the businessman.
Kariuki denied the charges in court and was released on a Sh11 million cash bail.
A string of businesses
The reclusive billionaire who is said to have vast interests in the beverages, energy, real estate and hospitality industries under the Janus Continental Group, in November 2019 denied allegations that Cyprus had cancelled his passport.
The reports came after a Cypriot publication, Cyprus Mail wrote that the businessman and his wife are among those whose passports could be revoked due to involvement in ‘financial scam’.
“Chinese national Zhang Shumin, reportedly linked to a gold scam, his wife and three children are on the same list as well as Kenyan Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa, believed to be involved in a financial scam and his wife,” the Cyprus Mail reported in 2019
At home, the rigorous investigations forced Kariuki to resign as Chairman of Janus Continental Group. Detectives had raided most of his numerous businesses.
Authorities wanted to seize his assets in the probe.
Court records show up to 28 vehicles registered in the names of 14 directors were also being sought. They include Kariuki (one), Nyawira Kariuki (one), Margaret Karimi Mbaka (four), Alastair Mark Cavenagh (four), Matheka Oscar (one), Kepha Githu Gakure (two), Stuart Gerald Herd (five), Claudine Mathis (one), Susan Waithera Waithaka (two), Peter Shikari Menza (one motorcycle and three vehicles), Robert Thinji Muriithi (two) and Anne Wanjiru Ndung’u (one).
Other entities in his stable include Dalbit Petroleum, a fuel distributor and Great Lakes Energy, a company that Forbes reports was awarded a Sh40 billion by the Mozambican government for an energy project.
Kariuki also holds ownership of the Hub mall in Karen and Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari club in Nanyuki together with Africa Spirits Limited.
Analysts believe that Mr Kariuki and countless others who have had questionable dealings abroad, and have Cypriot Citizenship, might be the first to lose their citizenship as the Cyprus Govt ends the Citizenship by Investment scheme permanently.
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