Nairobi News


Tax evasion cartels cornered as agencies tighten ports checks

A wind of change seems to be softly blowing at Kenyan ports, leaving tax evasion syndicates exposed and leaking their wounds.

Over the past nine months, unprecedented busts by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and security agencies have left hitherto “untouchable” smuggling cartels groaning in agony as their luxurious imports worth millions of shillings are confiscated by the Government.

On Monday, KRA revealed in a Nairobi court that a Range Rover Sport belonging to Water CS Eugene Wamalwa, which had been registered as an Isuzu truck and accrued Sh6.5 million in unpaid taxes, was stolen from the United Kingdom.

Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku ordered that the vehicle be taken back to the UK for further investigations.

Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa's car being inspected by Kenya Revenue Authority officers at the Railways Club in Nairobi on May 17, 2016. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU
Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa’s car being inspected by Kenya Revenue Authority officers at the Railways Club in Nairobi on May 17, 2016. PHOTO | FILE

The Range Rover is among 121 others deregistered by the authority in September after their owners fraudulently registered them, evading duty amounting to Sh500 million.

Here are 10 key events that have defined the war against corruption at the ports of entry this year:

  1. January 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta oversees the destruction of contraband goods worth Sh400 million in Mombasa. The goods included 64 containers of ethanol, 39 containers of sugar and 50 containers of rice unfit for human consumption.

  1. February 2016

KRA officials raid a container freight station owned by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho citing tax evasion.

  1. February 2016

President Kenyatta sends home top KPA and KRA officials in Mombasa in a bid to clean the port of corruption. Among those fired was the port’s managing director Gichiri Ndua as well as the general managers in charge of human resources, operations, legal, corporate services and the head of security. More than 50 staff and top managers were also transferred from the container freight stations in the far-reaching purge.

  1. March 2016

KRA officials impound three luxury cars declared as household goods at the Port of Mombasa. The vehicles, two Range Rovers and a Mercedes Benz valued at Sh28 million, were hidden among baby walkers and mattresses and were destined for Uganda. If undetected, the taxman would have lost Sh8.5m in taxes.

  1. July 2016

Catherine Mturi-Wairi is appointed as the KPA Managing Director. President Kenyatta orders her to go for thieves at the Port of Mombasa and restore its reputation.

  1. August 2016

Thirteen KPA, KRA and Kenya Bureau of Standards officials are charged with releasing containers without payment of customs duty amounting to Sh9 million.

They were arrested in a tax evasion probe by a multi-agency team comprising Kenya Revenue Authority, KPA, National Intelligence Service and Directorate of Criminal Investigation officials at the Mombasa port

  1. September 2016

KRA deregisters 121 vehicles whose owners are said to have acquired fraudulent registration and evaded tax in the process.

  1. September 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta announces the establishment of a special police unit to deal with corruption and illicit trafficking of cargo and drugs at the port of Mombasa. He directs Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet to immediately set up the independent unit to curb tax evasion, smuggling of contrabands and drugs.

  1. October 2016

KRA officials seize two Ranger Rovers valued at over Sh24m at the Port of Mombasa. The fuel guzzlers had been concealed as bicycles destined for Uganda and would have seen the government lose Sh15m in unpaid taxes.

  1. October 2016

KRA officials seize eight Mercedes Benz cars in Nairobi’s Majengo slums. The cars bearing South Sudan registration numbers had been smuggled in containers by a suspected to be an international car theft syndicate.