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Traders change pleas in VAT law case

Traders charged with contravening the new VAT law changed their pleas yesterday when the possibility of paying hefty fines or spending two years in jail became clear.

The supermarket managers, cashiers and grocers had pleaded guilty to taxing non-taxable products. However, a Sh500,000 fine slapped on one of them drove the gravity of the offence home.

The magistrate had, prior to  the plea hearing, asked them if they had read the new VAT Act.

“I advise you to seek the services of a lawyer, not to represent you, but to advise you,” Ms Meresia Opondo told one of the businessmen.

The accused, among them Ukwala Hyper’s manager Kamlesh Patel, Anthony Njogu of Tuskys and John Macharia of Bakers Inn were arrested after a crackdown by Kenya Revenue Authority officers on Thursday.

According to the charge sheets, the traders imposed VAT on products such as maize meal, infant formula, sanitary towels and bread.

Their cases were fixed for hearing starting next month.