KRA targets ex-finance boss over Sh116 million taxes

From left: Former Nyandarua Chief Finance Officer Michael Kamau, his wife Catherine Wanjiku and mother Agnes Wanjiku when they appeared in court yesterday over tax evasion charges. [Mose Sammy, Standard]
A former county official was yesterday arraigned over failure to pay Sh116 million in taxes to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Former Nyandarua Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Michael Kamau Kuria, 37, two of his relatives and a business associate appeared before Senior Resident Magistrate Nelly Kariuki where they denied tax evasion charges.

Kamau, his wife Catherine Wanjiku Njeri, mother Agnes Wanjiku Kuria, and business partner Henry Njoroge Gathiga pleaded not guilty to 58 charges relating to tax offences.

The four were charged that as directors of six different companies, namely, Gachomba and Company Properties, Wanjohi Contractors and General Supplies Ltd, Olkalau Ventures, Kanjuiri General Contractors, Kaimbaga Enterprises and Githioro Contractors, they failed to pay taxes.

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The suspects were accused of failure to file tax returns, pay corporate and income tax, Pay As You Earn deductions, and value added tax (VAT).

According to the charges read out in court, the directors failed to pay income, tax totaling Sh75,119,483 and Sh40,063,725 in VAT dues.

Last month, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) obtained orders freezing Kuria’s accounts after the agency told Justice Mumbi Ngugi that the ex-CFO had embezzled Sh115 million and acquired property worth Sh181 million in three years.

The four were also dispossessed of four top-of-the-range vehicles.

Yesterday, State Counsel for KRA Doris Ing’ahizu and Chilla Sanga urged the court to set stringent bail terms for the suspects.

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The counsel said Kuria was a flight risk because he was also under investigation by the EACC.

“This case is of great public interest because payment of taxes is the obligation of every citizen. Failure to pay taxes is tantamount to economic sabotage,” Ms Ing’ahizu said.

Family ties

But Kamau’s lawyer, Dennis Maina, said his client and his wife were parents to eight children who were minors and that he had close family ties.

“My client travelled from Nakuru this morning after being summoned and has no intentions of fleeing,” Mr Maina said.

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The lawyer told the court that his client was sick and had sought treatment at St Michael’s Hospital in Canada before flying back to Kenya on April 7.

“Kamau came back home to see his family and was arrested at the JKIA by KRA officials under what they termed a departure prohibition order. His passport is already in the custody of the commission.”

The magistrate ordered that the accused be released on a cash bail of Sh5 million each, or Sh10 million bond with a surety of a similar amount.

The case will be heard in two different courts on June 10 and 12.

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Kenya Revenue AuthorityNyandaruaMichael Kamau KuriaCatherine Wanjiku NjeriAgnes Wanjiku KuriaHenry Njoroge Gathiga