- Former Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja finds herself at the centre of a legal storm as a Nairobi court issued a warrant of arrest for her in connection with a Sh14.5 billion tax returns case.
- The allegations against the Keroche CEO and her company pertain to a period spanning from February 20, 2015, to January 20, 2016, during which they purportedly made erroneous statements in their excise duty returns, leading to a jaw-dropping reduction of Sh1.8 billion in their duty payments.
In an interesting turn of events, former Keroche Brewery CEO Tabitha Karanja finds herself at the centre of a legal storm as a Nairobi court issued a warrant of arrest for her in connection with a Sh14.5 billion tax returns case.
The court took this drastic step after Karanja, who is the current Nakuru County Senator, failed to attend the scheduled hearing in the high-profile tax evasion case.
Milimani senior principal magistrate Esther Kimilu signed the arrest warrant after being informed that the Senator was absent during the court proceedings related to her high-profile case.
With the prosecution seeking decisive action, the court promptly obliged, scheduling a hearing for the case on Thursday morning.
Senator Karanja was in April charged afresh with 10 counts of tax evasion and the Prosecution requested amendments to the charges, citing discrepancies in the 2019 charge sheet.
The allegations against Karanja, who resigned as the Keroche Breweries CEO in June, and her company pertain to a period spanning from February 20, 2015, to January 20, 2016, during which Keroche is accused of making erroneous statements in its excise duty returns, resulting in a reduction of Sh1.8 billion in its duty payments.
Moreover, the prosecution claims that Senator Karanja's incorrect statements concerning the January to December 2017 returns had a profound impact, affecting payable excise duty by a whopping Sh3.6 billion.
The timeline of allegations extends further to the period between February 20 and July 20, during which the accused allegedly omitted crucial information from their VAT returns for January to June significantly affecting its VAT liability by Sh196 million.
In the intricate web of accusations, Karanja faces additional charges related to under-declaring production volumes by a shocking 820,601 litres while heading the brewery.
The prosecution contends that she misapplied excise duty rates on Vienna Ice, using Sh27.06 instead of the appropriate Sh175, thereby allegedly reducing her excise duty liability by an astronomical Sh1,855,403,900.
This sum was legally required to be paid to the commissioner under the Excise Duty Act even as the defence team had indicated its desire to explore an out-of-court settlement with the taxman.
"We have already initiated the process of settling the matter with KRA, and if the court allows, we wish to have the matter settled," the court was informed.
But a representative of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in court denied any plan to settle the matter outside the judicial system.