Dramatic arrest of Keroche owners

Police officers arrest Keroche Breweries chairman Joseph Karanja (left) and CEO Tabitha Karanja (right) at their Naivasha-based factory. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]
Keroche Breweries owners Tabitha Karanja and her husband Joseph Karanja spent Wednesday night in their offices as officers laid siege to the premises for almost 24 hours.

They were arrested yesterday morning.

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)  camped outside the couple's office until they came out.

The arrests followed an order by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji after the couple was accused of failing to pay taxes amounting to Sh14 billion from 2015, an allegation they deny.

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The couple looked unfazed by the arrest carried out by tens of sleuths, who whisked them away in cars to the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road in Nairobi.

Minutes before the arrest, Naivasha Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali had issued search and arrest warrants for the entrepreneurs who had locked themselves in their offices located in Naivasha, along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

Once the order was served, the two walked out of their officers as the company's distributors, who had arrived at the beer factory hours earlier, cheered them.

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The couple will be arraigned today to face tax evasion charges.

Also arrested during the raid were two security managers from the company who were driven to Naivasha Police Station.

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Naivasha DCIO Kennedy Njoroge confirmed the arrest of the two managers, adding that they will be charged with obstruction.

“The Karanjas have been taken to Nairobi while the two security managers are in Naivasha and will be charged with obstructing arrest of suspects,” he said.

Speaking on phone, Mr Karanja said he is a law-abiding citizen and is ready to face any charges.

Karanja, who returned to the country recently after spending a month in the UK undergoing treatment, exuded confidence that it is only a matter of time before the truth is known.

“This is not about tax but about our recently launched products but the truth will set us free as we have not defaulted in paying taxes as alleged,” he said.

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On Wednesday, the DPP issued orders for the couple's arrest for failing to pay taxes amounting to Sh14 billion from 2015.

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

In terms of excise duty, the DPP claimed Keroche owes the taxman Sh41 million in stamps, Sh55 million on Crescent Vodka, Sh233 million on Vienna Ice with quantity variance and Sh1.5 billion with rate variance.

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Keroche BreweriesTabitha KaranjaKenya Revenue Authority