Keroche owners arrest irks Kikuyu elders, Naivasha business community

Written By: Margaret Kalekye/Correspondent

The couple has denied the charges and are out on bail

The Kikuyu Council of Elders and Naivasha business community have come to the defence of embattled Keroche Breweries after allegations of Sh14B tax evasion.

The two groups are reading malice in the arrest and eventual prosecution of Tabitha Karanja and her husband Joseph Karanja.

According to them, their arrests and prosecution was a well calculated move to humiliate the renowned entrepreneurs.

The Kikuyu Elders chair Daniel Kigochi said the arrest had sent fears among investors terming the action by the detectives as inhumane.

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He noted that Keroche had employed hundreds of Kenyans directly and indirectly and was paying millions in tax to KRA unlike other investors.

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“It was sickening and sad over how the DCI officers treated Mr Karanja who has been ailing for some time and we condemn KRA and DCI officers over the manner they have treated this family,” he said.

Another elder Timothy Githogori said that they were fully behind Keroche adding that investors should be subjected to intimidation and embarrassment.

He wondered why the local investors were not summoned to the DCI officers like other suspects adding the stage managed arrest was meant to humiliate the couple.

“Hundreds of people from the country earn their bread through Keroche Breweries and unlike other investors who hide their cash abroad we have seen the benefits of these entrepreneurs,” he said.

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The sentiments were echoed by a trader Joseph Kariuki who said that they saw the hand of competitors in the inhumane arrest of the two.

“The manner in which the two were arrested would make one think that they had murdered tens of people yet they have instead offered job opportunities to hundreds of people,” he said.

On Wednesday, the DPP Noordin Haji issued orders to arrest the couple of failing to remit tax running into Sh14B from 2015 an allegation the company has denied.

The DPP noted that investigations revealed that the company evaded paying Sh12.34 billion Value Added Tax (VAT), Sh329.4 million for stamps and Sh135.4 million for Crescent Vodka among other products.

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The forfeited payments on products include Vienna Ice- Quantity Variance Sh1.7B, Vienna Ice- Rate Variance Sh9B, and summit beers at Sh658m, Mr Haji said.

In terms of Excise duty, the DPP claimed Keroche owes the taxman Sh41m in stamps, Sh55m on Crescent Vodka, Sh233m on Vienna Ice with quantity variance and Sh1.5B with rate variance.

Summit beers are also short on monies worth Sh250 million, according to Haji.

Read related: Keroche CEO Tabitha, husband Karanja released on Ksh 12M cash bail




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