By Dhahabu Writer
Four Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officers, have been arraigned at the Milimani Law Courts, in Nairobi, for perpetrating tax evasion related crimes.
The officers, who have also been suspended from the Authority’s service, were formerly attached to the KRA Customs and Border Control Division, in Mombasa.
KRA staffers, Lilian Akoth Onyango, John Wesonga, Anthony Ochieng and David Mwongela, appeared before Milimani Law Courts, Chief Magistrate, Daniel Ogembo, facing a charge of making false customs transit bonds.
The four, denied the charges and were released on a Sh1 million bond or cash bail of 200,000 each.
They are currently on suspension, for abetting tax evasion vices, at the Portside and Autoport Container Freight Stations, in Mombasa.
In recent weeks, KRA, has managed to swiftly plug potential revenue leakage holes in the lucrative import cargo sector with a raft of new customs procedures.
The move comes just a week after Kenya announced that it will collaborate with over 93 countries globally in the fight against multinationals that rid the country of billions of shillings evading the taxman’s net.
Kenya will also borrow from the countries in tackling fraudulent tax evasion schemes among individuals in the country.
At a meeting in France last week, Kenya signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters agreement. This implies that countries under the convention such as Nigeria, USA, UK and India will help Kenya trace multinationals that do not pay tax in the country.
According to the Tax Justice Network, Kenya loses over Sh112 billion ($1.1 billion) each year from tax incentives and exemptions especially to multinationals. Multinationals that do not make public their books of accounts are top in the list of tax evaders, telecom SIM box fraud is also a menace in tax evasion.
“We are looking forward to speedy ratification of the agreement,”
KRA commissioner general John Njiraini said while at the global forum,
“at the end of the day, we do not see that there is any significant difference between straight tax evasion and abusive tax avoidance, which works to abnormally lower tax exposure.”
Kenya now becomes the 94th jurisdiction to join the most powerful multilateral instrument against offshore tax evasion and avoidance. The deal comes at a time when Kenya through KRA has made several strides in the tax evasion fight.
The taxman has previously established formal structure that involve the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters in the fight against the vice.
Enactment of the Tax Procedures Bill into law, also demonstrates seriousness in tackling tax evasion by imposing serious penalties to offenders. The penalties imposed are as high as double the tax avoided over a set period of time.
The global move to tackle tax evasion through the ‘Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters,’ came into being in 1988 and was amended in 2010.
It was a response to a call by G20 countries to align it to the international standard on exchange of information and to open it to all countries, thus ensuring that developing countries could benefit from the new more transparent environment.