31 graft arrests fan fears over what you eat

Public Health officers when they destroyed 153 sacks of contaminated sugar in Nakuru in July. [File, Standard]
A wide array of consumer goods and home appliances in retail shops could be fake, according to a dossier by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

Detectives have unearthed suspect goods worth billions of shillings that were imported between December 2017 and last month.

The probe reveals that virtually all the products you use daily fall short of the stipulated quality standards, hence endangering your life and exposing you to losses through purchasing fake goodspackaged as genuine.

The goods include thousands of tonnes of rice, fertiliser, shoes, tyres, hardware goods, stationery, vacuum flasks, textile products, electronics, mobiles phones and phone spares, diapers, headphones, cooking oil, sanitary towels, chocolate, garments and alcoholic beverages.

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Others include pet foods, food supplements, school bags, auto spares, roses, disposable medical gloves, toothpaste, milk powder, juice drinks, wheat flour, cereals, protective paints, detergents, cotton swabs, noodles, spaghetti, peanut butter and pasta.

Consequently 31 officials from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Kenya Bureau of Standard (Kebs), importers and clearing agents were arrested last Friday and are set to appear in court this morning to face charges of allowing entry of contraband goods.

Among those nabbed are KRA Commissioner for Customs and Border Control Julius Musyoki Nzau and suspended Kebs MD Charles Ongwae. Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti said the war against counterfeits will intensify.

“Those arrested will appear in court on Monday to face various charges ranging from abuse of office, breach of trust, wilful disobedience of statutory duty and neglecting official duty by allowing substandard goods that are prejudicial to public health and safety,” Mr Kinoti told The Standard.

Others arrested include Kiprono Cole, David Njagi, Dorothy Wanja, Michael Juma and Ahmed Dahir from KRA Mombasa; Joseph Bojo, Daniel Kimonge, Godfrey Musita, Beatrice Wahong’o and Lawrence Michumbu of Kebs (Mombasa); officials of Inland Logistics Ltd  Roy Mwanthi, Karim Amirali, Felix Makau and Moses Yaa.

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Isgar Ltd, which imported most of the goods, had Zaida Bajwa arrested as well as Sahel Clearing officials Habib Karim and Bassam Hakem. Irene Gathendu of Kiambaa Clearing and Forwarding too was picked up last Friday.

Others in Nairobi include Erick Chesire (Kebs), Martin Nyakiamo (Kebs), Erick Onyango (Kebs), Peter Ndung’u (Kebs), Pole Mwangemi (Kebs), Peter Nzui (Port Health) and clearing agents Elmius Mukhobi, Ruben Shah, Bhavin Gudka and Shuresh Varsan.

The DCI explained that some of the goods had failed to meet quality standards but were allowed into the country while KRA officers gave the importers tax clearances.

In a nine-page report, the DCI detailed the certificates of imports, the names of firms that imported the suspect goods, their quantities, dates, clearing agents and tax due.

However, for legal reasons, we cannot disclose all the names of the firms except those whose officials have been arrested and are due to be charged today. 

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Substandard rice

In the period of December 2017 to June 2018, the DCI dossier shows that 20 firms imported  314 20ft containers of substandard rice mainly from Pakistan and some from Thailand. This is about 7,000 tonnes or about 6.2 million kilogrammes.

One of the companies brought in the biggest consignment of 88 containers of 20-foot containers, which translates to about 1,930 tonnes, followed by Isgar Group Kenya Limited, which brought in 40 containers or 880 tonnes.

17 firms imported 24 containers of women’s shoes, synthetic slippers, PVC gumboots, and safety shoes that did not meet the standards.

Three other firms were cited for importing four containers of bicycle and truck tyres and motorcycle inner tubes that did not conform to the standards.

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Two companies shipped in one 20ft container of washing detergent and soap noodles respectively while another one brought in black tea.  

Other firms shipped in one 40ft container of face helmets, three 40ft containers of roofing nails, one 40ft container of assorted rearward, two 20ft containers of floor tiles, and one 20ft container of steel bars.

Directorate of Criminal InvestigationsFake GoodsDCIKRA