Kenya: Mombasa Politician, Two Traders Guilty in Sh13million Tax Evasion Case

Mombasa politician Maur Abdallah Bwanamaka and two businessmen have been found guilty of evading Sh13 million tax by under-declaring rice imported from Zanzibar.

Also found guilty of the offence committed in 2019 are Captain Shipping Agency director Ali Mohamed and vessel master Abdalla Hussein Mer.

Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti said the evidence against the three was overwhelming.

She added that the men made a false report to facilitate the release of the cargo without paying custom duty.

"The accused are convicted in their individual capacity and as directors of Captain Shipping Agency," the court said.

The magistrate added that she could not understand how agencies charged with inspecting vessels cleared the goods without noticing the thousands bags of rice hidden in MV Al Fazal.

The anomaly was discovered during the unloading of the goods at Mombasa Old Port after they had been cleared by the inspection team.

Evidence against the accused

"The multi-agency team on board the ship was either careless, too busy to conduct proper inspection or there was collusion," the magistrate said.

The court added that the evidence against the accused was very glaring and that it appears the multi-agency team limited its inspection to what was on the surface of the ship.

The magistrate at the same time cancelled Sh100,000 bond terms on the accused and directed that they remain detained at Port police station awaiting sentencing on June 7.

Following their conviction, the court is expected to order the forfeiture and destruction of the goods.

The more than 15,000 bags of rice and 16 tonnes of scrap metal are being held at Old Port where MV Al Fazal docked in November 2019.

The case also involved a visit to the site the vessel and its contents are being held by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

The vessel was seized while the rice was being offloaded.

According to KRA, MV Al Fazal was impounded when the importing company - Federal Commercial Investment Ltd - attempted to discharge the cargo without paying Sh13 million in taxes.

Under-declaring cargo

The taxman accused the importer of deliberately under-declaring the cargo.

Mr Bwanamaka and Mr Mohamed, who were to receive the rice, were charged with making a false report.

The charge sheet stated that the consignee and agent unlawfully made the report by declaring that the vessel had 1,000 bags of rice instead of 15,045.

KRA says the accused also declared 10 tonnes of scrap metal instead of the 16 tonnes on the ship.

The cargo on the ship was valued at more than Sh22.5 million.

Mr Mer was also charged with conveying imported goods that were under-declared.

KRA accuses the group of engaging in falsifying manifests at Old Port customs border station in Mombasa.

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