KRA staff in tax evasion, bribery arrests detained for 14 days

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KRA staff in tax evasion, bribery arrests detained for 14 days

Kenya Revenue Authority
Kenya Revenue Authority offices in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Thirty-eight Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) employees arrested on Friday on suspicion of abetting tax evasion and bribery will remain in police custody for 14 more days.

Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Mayova Monday issued the custody order amid protests from defence lawyers. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had asked the court to have the suspects detained for 21 days, saying detectives need more time to retrieve data from 178 seized phones and laptops as well as M-Pesa statements for forensic examination. The DCI also argued that 48 more KRA staff were on the run and that they could interfere with investigations.

The staff, who work in the domestic tax department and customs and border control, are accused of helping to fraudulently clear cargo and alter tax returns to help people dodge tax payments.

The agency did not say how much revenue had been lost.

The detentions come as the government struggles to raise tax revenues to fund its budget. The State was short of its revenue target by Sh97.7 billion in the nine months to March.

“I pray that you grant us 21 days to lock up the suspects at Central and Kamukunji police stations within Nairobi. This is a serious matter,” State counsel Duncan Ondimu said.

The more than 10 defence lawyers termed the allegations levelled against their clients politically instigated.

Lawyer Julie Soweto suggested the suspects be held in a hotel since there was a higher likelihood that only a few of them would later be charged.

The KRA Friday said 75 workers had been interdicted for abetting tax evasion after being under covert watch for four months involving trailing their money and communication, commonly referred to as wiretapping.

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