“We want to send a very strong warning to the perpetrators of this illegal business that it will not be business as usual,” said Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General, John Njiriani.
In a move to deter and send a stern warning to individuals engaging in fraud in Customs processes, barrels containing ethanol, rice, and sugar were on Friday January 22, 2016 torched in the presence of President of Uhuru Kenyatta.
The illegally imported sugar, rice and ethanol worth Sh400 million ($3.9m) were destroyed and according to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner General John Njiriani, unlike in the past, the impounded goods will no longer be auctioned but will be destroyed in an effort to deter smuggling of goods into the country.
“We want to send a very strong warning to the perpetrators of this illegal business that it will not be business as usual,” said Mr Njiriani adding that importers should not expect to benefit from the illicit trade like they did before, when it was possible for them to buy the same at auctions directly or through their agents.
“We have heightened surveillance and will arrest and prosecute those involved in tax evasion and other economic crimes,” Mr Njiraini said.
The poor growth of sugar industries in Kenya has been attributed to the illegal importation of cheap sugar.
“There are 64 containers of ethanol valued at Sh288 million, 39 containers of sugar valued at Sh56 million as well as 50 containers of condemned rice that is unfit for human consumption and has no commercial value,” a statement by State House read.
Apart from KRA Commissioner General, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) CEO Halakhe Waqo also accompanied President Kenyatta to the Mwakirunge dumpsite to witness the destruction of the contraband goods.
A collaborative effort among a multi government task force helped nab the illegal goods. KRA, the EACC and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations officials were last week in Mombasa to assess impounded goods. They said masterminds of the criminal act will soon be arraigned in court.
The goods were brought into the country as hardware material, whole lentils, photocopiers, office furniture, new shoes and dried grapes.
To curb the illicit transactions, Revenue authorities from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are planning to put in place a common electronic system for tracking cargo. Moreover, a law to mandate cargo verification at the point of origin not destination will be introduced.
Five brand-new Range Rover vehicles which were seized in November and December last year, will also be destroyed.
Image Credit: Wachira Mwangi
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