A manager at the Kenya Revenue Authority and his wife have been charged in a Nairobi court with failure to pay taxes worth Sh38.6 million.
Joseph Gikonyo has been on the radar of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for the past three years over claims that he has accumulated unexplained wealth estimated to be over Sh615 million, which the commission suspects are proceeds of corruption.
EACC last year filed a suit against Gikonyo, claiming that his multi-millionaire lifestyle was not commensurate with his modest salary of Sh119,000 per month.
Yesterday, Gikonyo and his wife Lucy Kangai and their company Giche Ltd were charged that they failed to remit Sh38,692,694 to KRA between 2010 and 2015 arising from the company’s taxable income and accrued penalties.
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But Gikonyo, through his lawyer Ismail Abbas, accused the EACC of having ill-motive against him after failing to have his assets forfeited to the State.
“The commission is abusing the court process after failing to get evidence on the claims of corruption. They are now brandishing a sword of prosecuting him in a tax dispute that has other avenues of resolving as opposed to bringing up the charges,” said Abbas.
The commission suspected that Gikonyo’s immovable properties spread across Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale valued at Sh355 million and cash deposits in various banks totalling Sh399 million were proceeds of crime acquired through corrupt practices.
Among the properties the commission claimed he illegally acquired were two plots in Nyali valued at Sh125 million, two parcels of land in Shanzu, Mombasa County, valued at Sh26 million and a posh farm house in Kilifi town valued at Sh27 million.
Other properties at the Coast were a Sh40 million house in Mombasa town, land in Kwale valued at Sh2.5 million and a plot in Mtwapa valued at Sh2 million.
His properties in Nairobi were listed as 13 plots in Sosian Estate valued at Sh75 million, flats in Umoja Estate valued at Sh33.5 million, a house at Greenspan Estate valued at Sh12 million and a Sh9 million house in Vescon Estate.
Gikonyo has been an employee of KRA since 1998 and was the manager at Eldoret before he was suspended pending conclusion of investigations on how he acquired his wealth.
EACC claimed it was impossible for a civil servant of Gikonyo’s status to acquire such massive wealth within 18 years without any other known source of income apart from the salary and the bonus he receives from his tea farming in Murang’a.
As part of his large lifestyle, EACC claimed he bought insurance policies for his family worth millions of shillings, bought shares in Safaricom Limited, Equity Bank, Kenya-Re and KenGen.
But Abbas told trial magistrate Lawrence Mugambi that the tax evasion charge was retaliation by the EACC after the High Court lifted orders that froze Gikonyo’s assets.
Mr Mugambi released Gikonyo and his wife on a cash bail of Sh5 million each and ordered them to deposit their passports in court. The case is scheduled for pre-trial on July 13.