KENYA –  Keroche Breweries, one of the leading alcohol beverage companies in Kenya, is one again in the headlines with its CEO Tabitha Karanja taken to court by the Kenya Revenue Authority over KES14.5 billion (US$110 million) tax returns.

Tabitha, who is also a Senator for Nakuru County, appeared before Milimani senior principal magistrate Esther Kimilu where she faced 10 counts of tax evasion. She denied all of them.  

According to reports by local daily, The Start, the tax evasion case against Keroche Breweries and its CEO is taking a new twist with the prosecution requesting to amend the charges, saying some particulars were missing in the 2019 charge sheet.

According to the charge sheet, the accused and the company on dates between February 20, 2015, and January 20, 2016, unlawfully made incorrect statements in their excise duty returns by reducing their duty by KES1.8 billion.

She also made incorrect statements for the January to December 2017 returns, which affected payable excise duty by KES3.6 billion, according to KRA.

KRA further noted that between February 20 and July 20 the accused unlawfully omitted from their VAT returns for January to June affecting their VAT liability by Sh196 million.

Tabitha was also accused of under-declaring production volumes by 820,601 litres and misapplication of excise duty rates on Vienna Ice by using Sh27.06 instead of Sh175, thereby reducing her excise duty liability by KES1, 855, 403, 900 payable to the commissioner as required by the Excise Duty Act.

The defence however indicated to court that that they seek to settle the matter out of court. “We have already initiated the process of settling the matter with KRA and if court allows, we wish to have the matter settled,” the court was told.

In a quick rebuttal, a KRA representative who was present in court said the office has no intentions to have the matter settled out of court since they have not received any information.

In line with Section 109 of the Tax Procedures Act, the application should be addressed to the commissioner in writing, the court was told.

In response, the Magistrate gave Tabitha 45 days to initiate the ADR process failure to which the matter will proceed to full trial.

“It’s evident that defence was not ready. I give them 45 days to initiate the ADR process failure to which no further delay or adjournment will be granted. Court has always been ready,” the magistrate said.

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