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Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja’s husband Joseph Mungai excluded in new tax evasion case

Keroche Breweries Chief Executive Officer Chief Executive Tabitha Karanja was on April 13, 2023, charged afresh in a Sh14.5 billion tax evasion case that dates back to 2015.

In the amended case, Karanja’s husband Joseph Karanja Muigai who had been charged alongside her in August 2019 has had his name removed from the charged sheet on medical grounds.

Karanja is battling a health challenge at a city health facility.

State prosecutor Irene Muthee who presented the new charges before Milimani senior principal magistrate Esther Kimilu said ‘it is only her and Keroche Breweries Limited (KBL) who have been named in the fresh indictment’.

The fresh charges follow the prosecution’s request to amend the earlier charge sheets in the Sh14.5 billion tax evasion case by removing the name of Joseph Karanja Muigai.

Ms Karanja, who also is the Nakuru Senator, denied all ten counts filed against her of fraud in relation to tax declarations on beer production and the dutiable amounts in Value Added Tax (VAT) and Excise Duty Returns to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner.

The politician was charged that on diverse dates between February 15, 2015, and January 20, 2016, made incorrect statements in Excise Duty Returns for January 2015 and December 2015 by under-declaring production volumes by 820,601 liters of Viena Ice beer brand by using Sh27.06 instead of Sh175, thereby reducing duty by KSh1,825,403,900.

Another charge stated she under-declared the production of Viena Ice by 2,005,191 liters causing the government to lose Sh1,099,591,423.

She had used Sh41.62 instead of Sh210.40 thereby reducing the VAT payable.

Keroche’s lawyers informed Ms Kimilu the accused wants the matter resolved out of court.

However, Irene Muthee, a KRA officer, told the court that there had been no agreement to settle the matter out of court because Keroche would be required to notify the commissioner in writing under the Tax Procedure Act.

As a result, the court gave Keroche 45 days to begin the out-of-court settlement process (ADR), failing which the case will go to full trial from July 26 and 27 2023.

Ms Kimilu directed KRA and the accused to appear before the court to report on the progress of the ADR which courts encourage to reduce the backlog.

The taxman had in 2022 sued Keroche Breweries for contempt of court.

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