KENYA – A multi-agency team led by the Economic and Commercial Crimes (ECC) Unit and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has stepped up the fight against the rising instances of counterfeit alcoholic drinks entering the Kenyan market, as the demand for cheaper alcohol rises following tough economic conditions. 

In a recent incident, the ECC Unit and KRA following a targeted operation seized a consignment of counterfeit alcoholic drinks and fake KRA stamps set to enter the market, targeting unsuspecting consumers. 

The operation was part of an ongoing effort to combat high-level tax evasion schemes within the alcoholic products trade and resulted in the recovery of over 2,500 bottles of counterfeit spirits according to a report by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). 

The beverages were packaged in branded bottles familiar to local consumers. The safety of the counterfeited drinks was still in doubt, raising concerns about potential risks to consumers.  

The operation also led to the confiscation of 40 litres of ethanol and 24,000 counterfeit KRA stamps often used to deceive authorities and consumers on the legitimacy of the drinks. 

A seizure notice has been issued, and the impounded goods are now subject to a thorough investigation to trace the origin of the illicit ethanol and the network responsible for the production and distribution of the counterfeit alcoholic beverages. 

The targeted operation comes barely months after the DCI recovered another consignment of counterfeit alcoholic drinks and fake stamps in Kahawa Sukari, Kenya, raising concerns of the unscrupulous activities in the growing alcoholic beverage sector. 

The operation, which took place on October 13, 2023, uncovered a startling cache of illicit goods. A total of 1,078 bottles of counterfeit alcoholic drinks, one roll of counterfeit KRA stamps, 630 litres of ethanol, 10,300 empty bottles, and four sacks of assorted bottle caps were recovered in the raid. 

Tough economic conditions 

Following the tough global economic conditions and weakening of the Kenyan shilling against the dollar, the government has implemented various measures to cushion the Kenyan economy. 

Some of these measures have seen the cost of production record a rise resulting in increasing prices for different beverage products.  

According to an article by Nation Africa, a growing number of Kenyans are switching to the consumption of the affordable keg beer, driven by the higher costs of bottled beer brands from increased taxation. 

Unscrupulous businesses are also on the rise as most business people seek to evade the increasing taxes on importation and production of the alcoholic drinks.