Kenya: DPP Haji Now Targets Keroche Power Couple With Sh14 Billion Tax Evasion Suit

DPP Noordin Haji has ordered for the arrest and arraignment of Keroche Breweries directors Tabitha Karanja and Joseph Karanja for allegedly evading taxes amounting Sh14.45 billion since 2015.

In a statement to newsrooms, the DPP said investigations revealed that the directors could be culpable of 10 counts of tax fraud between January 2015 to June 2019.

The DPP said the KRA commissioner general submitted an inquiry file to his office on August 18 and an audit by KRA established that Keroche Breweries had evaded payment of tax tallying to Sh14,451,836,375.

The amount evaded, according to the DPP, included stamps valued at Sh329,424,019, Crescent Vodka brand valued at Sh135,402,950 among other products registered under the company.

The exercise duty evaded on the said products, according to KRA, amounted to Sh2,101,846,768 billion.

IN PUBLIC INTEREST

The DPP says that he is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to charge the suspects with 10 counts of tax fraud contrary to the Tax Procedures Act of 2015.

For more than a decade, Keroche has been battling with Kenya Revenue Authority over tax arrears the brewer owes the taxman.

In 2017, a three-judge Court of Appeal bench ruled that KRA had abused its powers by sending a tax demand of the three tax heads and penalties amounting to Sh1.1 billion through a letter dated November 29, 2006.

The ruling was the third in the 10-year battle in favour of the brewer, which gave them a fresh lease of life to the 20-year-old Keroche.

The letter was dismissed as unreasonable because it had come without an accompanying schedule of details of the said assessment and without proper notices.

The revenue authority had appealed an earlier decision by the High Court on July 6, 2007, where Justice Joseph Nyamu had prohibited the taxman from demanding the taxes, citing "abuse of powers".

The taxman, who was also demanding an additional Value Added Tax of Sh305 million, was basing the tax bill on an assessment carried out in 2006, where some Keroche products had allegedly not been given the right classification, hence being subject to lower taxation.

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