Kenya: UK Firm Paid Sh10 Million More for Covid-19 Tender Still 'Cheated' Taxman, MPs Told

A UK-based firm that was paid Sh10 million more than the value of its Covid-19 supplies has been accused of telling lies to evade tax.

The firm that was paid Sh180 million for Sh170 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) allegedly lied to the taxman it had done business worth only Sh9.1 million, for which it paid a paltry Sh3.3 million in tax.

The money was paid by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) for PPE in an ostensible plan to bolster the country's war against Covid-19.

The National Assembly Public Investments Committee (PIC), which is investigating the Sh7.8 billion Kemsa scandal, yesterday found out Deekay Relief Limited-UK declared to the Kenya Revenue Authority it did business worth Sh9.1 million.

However, documents from Kemsa indicate Deekay Relief Limited-UK did business worth 180 million.

The lawmakers now want KRA to write to the company and demand the right amount in taxes the firm should have remitted.

Documents before the Abdulswamad Nassir-led committee indicate Deekay Relief Limited, whose head office is in the UK, paid only Sh3.3 million tax.

Long-time friend

"It is clear the company undervalued the business it did to KRA. This is a matter KRA should now follow up with the company," Mr Nassir said.

In a meeting with Mr Gideon Simiyu, who is the company's representative in Kenya yesterday, it also emerged Kemsa wired the Sh180 million in dollars without approval from the relevant authorities.

The law requires that for any public money to be paid to a foreign company in dollars or any other foreign currency, approval must be sought from the Central Bank of Kenya and the National Treasury.

"We have no documents before us from Kemsa indicating it sought the approval of either KRA or the Central Bank of Kenya. This is something that we will take up with Kemsa as a committee," Mr Nassir said.

Mr Simiyu yesterday told MPs that the director of Deekay Relief, Mr Manpreet Singh Kohli, is a long-time friend with whom he had done business with before in Kenya.

He denied Deekay Relief Limited-UK was paid an extra Sh10 million, saying documents held by the company indicate they were only paid Sh170 million, which was wired to Lloyds Bank in the UK.

"I have known Mr Singh since 2016/17. We met at the (Nairobi) Gymkhana. We have been friends since then and when he got a tender at Kemsa he called me from the UK and I assisted him in the supply," Mr Simiyu told the committee.

Expedited payment

Mr Simiyu, however, failed to disclose to the MPs how much he was paid by Singh as his agent, saying he would not be comfortable mentioning the amount.

"I don't know why I'm being pushed to mention the amount. Mr Singh is my friend and I know when he comes to Kenya he will pay me," Mr Simiyu told the lawmakers.

Mr Simiyu said Deekay Relief Limited whose headquarters is in India was paid 90 days after delivery of 20,000 of PPE.

According to documents being examined by the committee, Mr Kohli did all the paperwork in relation to the tender while in the UK and used Mr Simiyu to deliver them to the Kemsa headquarters.

"The way communication was done between these two entities, it shows that someone was communicating with Kemsa and you were just sent to deliver samples," Mr Nassir told the witness.

The committee also registered its displeasure at the decision by Kemsa to expedite payment for a foreign company while local one were still waiting to be paid.

The chairman said they had finalised their investigations and would retreat to write a report.

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