'OPERATION LINDA USHURU'

About 80 KRA staff arrested in anti-graft raid

DPP Haji says employees suspected to have colluded with traders and businessmen to evade tax

In Summary

• About 80 Kenya Revenue Authority Officers interdicted for tax evasion and graft will be prosecuted.

• The officers have been colluding with certain taxpayers in a criminal enterprise to evade payment of taxes and or reduce tax liability.

DPP Noordin Haji talks to journalists at Integrity centre during a past press conference.
DPP Noordin Haji talks to journalists at Integrity centre during a past press conference.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

About 80 KRA employees were arrested on Friday in one of the most far-reaching raids on a parastatal in the war against graft.

 

Police stormed KRA headquarters in the afternoon after an early plan to make the arrests overnight was changed because it would have been a logistical nightmare.

A large number of officers was needed to conduct the arrests.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said the workers were suspected to have colluded with traders and businessmen to evade tax. They were mostly from the Domestic Taxes Department and Customs and Border Control.

He said the tax evasion cartel was so widespread and deep-rooted and had made it difficult for KRA to meet revenue targets.

In the 2018-19 financial year, the tax collector had projected a Sh1.6 trillion collection, but latest projections showed it might fall short by Sh130billion.

The sting operation, dubbed Operation Linda Ushuru, was part of the war against corruption, Haji said.

He said he will stop at nothing to fight graft.

 

Those arrested are both senior and junior employees and might affect KRA's ability to function. But Haji said the arrests were unavoidable.

Police investigations had earlier revealed KRA staff undermine the institution's work by abetting tax evasion through bribe-taking.

 

He said the workers had betrayed the trust of the Kenyan public and their employer.

“This is yet another regrettable occurrence within the public sector that calls for decisive action in order to restore sanity in the management of our revenue collection,” Haji said in a statement.

The DPP acknowledged service delivery within KRA may be impacted, but said the investigations and probable prosecution of the suspects was a desirable step.

“I wish to reassure Kenyans that the fight against corruption in all its forms will continue unhindered and will be extended to all public entities that are charged with the management of public funds and affairs,” he said.

He said the fight against corruption will be conducted within the law.

Preliminary investigations established the suspects were "part and parcel of a criminal enterprise within KRA" that has seen Kenyans lose billions of uncollected taxes.

"The Director of Criminal Investigations has immediately started investigations on both KRA staff and their conspirators to jump-start the court process," Haji said.

The suspects, including those still under police radar include "62 from the Domestic Taxes Department and 18 from the Customs and Border Control Department.”

Earlier, KRA announced it had 75 employees thought to have facilitated the irregular clearance of cargo, fraudulent amendment of tax returns and the irregular issuance of Tax Compliance Certificates.

The affected officers were detained for questioning. The investigations have been ongoing for four months, with assistance from national law enforcement agencies to help in trailing the cash and communication.

Last year 85 employees of KRA were sacked in a graft-related purge.