18 June 2018

Kenya: Tycoon in Dirty Sugar Import Saga Arrested in Kitui

Photo: Laban Walloga/Daily Nation
Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner Mburu Githii (centre) addresses journalists outside one of the godowns in Changamwe where sugar suspected to be contaminated was found.

The owner of the warehouses which were found with contraband sugar late last week is in custody, police say.

On Sunday, Kitui Central OCPD Muthuri Mwongera said the proprietor of Mt Kenya Wholesalers was in custody in connection with the contraband sugar and would appear in court on Monday.

He said detectives were verifying the authenticity of the documents submitted by the tycoon.

The trader was arrested on Friday and his godowns put on a 24-hour police watch after hundreds of bags of sugar, suspected to be contaminated, were seized in three towns.

Mr Mwongera said samples of the consignment have been taken to Government Chemist for testing investigations into how the importers evaded paying duty to the Kenya Revenue Authority intensify.

Officers from the Kenya Bureau of Standards and KRA joined the investigating team and took samples of the sugar impounded from shops in Kitui, Matuu and Mwingi.

DUTY NOT PAID

"Investigations have established that duty was not paid. The sugar is similar to the consignment seized in Nairobi, which contained poison but we will ascertain that after getting results from the Government Chemist," the OCPD said.

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu urged shopkeepers who have been supplied with the sugar not to sell their stock.

Mrs Ngilu her administration would not allow traders to make Kitui a dumping ground for smuggled goods.

"This is the same sugar that Interior CS Fred Matiang'i ordered impounded in Nairobi. If any trader thinks he can cut corners and dump the sugar in Kitui, he mistaken" Mrs Ngilu said as she ordered the warehouses to halt their operations.

The governor urged Kitui residents to be on the lookout and avoid taking sugar.

CONDUCTING RAIDS

KRA commissioner Mburu Githii said a multi agency team is conducting raids in godowns in the country.

He added that inspections would continue to ensure Kenyans are not exposed to poisonous sugar.

Meanwhile, an elderly couple was arrested at Burma Market and detained at Shauri Moyo Police Station on Friday on suspicion of selling illegal sugar.

Police said they suspect the sugar the two have been selling in wholesale, is contraband, and might have been supplied by rogue businesspeople.

In the past month, KeBS, KRA, the Anti-Counterfeit Agency and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations have launched a crackdown on counterfeit and contraband sugar.

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