In a press statement making rounds on social media Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, this evening ordered the arrest and prosecution of Keroche Breweries owners Tabitha Karanja and her husband Joseph Karanja over alleged tax evasion accumulating to Ksh.14.4 billion on various products that the brewery manufactures and sells.
The alleged tax evasion occurred between January 2015 and June 2019 where the company failed to pay Excise Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) on its various products including Crescent Vodka, Viena Ice and Summit beers as well as duty stamps.
“Therefore Having independently reviewed the file and applying the provisions of the National Prosecution Policy, I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to charge the suspects listed herein with 10 counts of Tax Fraud, contrary to section 97 (a) and (c) of the Tax Procedures Act, 2015. Accordingly, I direct the following suspects to be arraigned in court,” read the press statement signed by DPP.
Responding to the matter in an official Statement Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja said that she learned of the news as she was driving home from work by calls from concerned Kenyans, her financiers, distributors across the country, customers and other concerned stakeholders and that she did not receive any formal communication from the office of the DPP.
“We are deeply shocked beyond imagination by both the allegations made and the manner at which the matter has been handled from the dissemination of the information. My shock is how a local investor can be, humiliated, embarrassed and denied the well-deserved respect. If it were a multinational company would it be handled in such a manner?
“As a local company, we have gone through numerous challenges as a result of which mostly has been castigated by our competitors and it is my plea as a homegrown investor to be supported for our tireless efforts in building a Kenyan story of self-determination, resilience and a belief in ourselves. Is it criminal for local investors to business in their own motherland? Does this country favor foreigners only? We need to support our own and treat them fair if not better,” read part of the statement.
The statement revealed that the only dispute Keroche Breweries has with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is on the applicable rate on Viena Ice ready to drink vodka which, she stated, is presently ongoing at the tax appeals tribunal. Tabitha noted that it is not in good faith for the office of the DPP to purport to prosecute a matter that is still under determination undermining an institution obligated to handle such matters, urged the DPP to first get his facts right about the whole issue.