Keroche's Tabitha Karanja charged afresh in Sh14bn tax evasion case with KRA

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja court

Keroche Breweries Chief Executive Officer Tabitha Karanja at the Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi on April 13, 2023.

Photo credit: Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

Keroche boss Tabitha Karanja has been charged afresh in the Sh14 billion tax evasion case pitting her against the taxman after the State amended the charge sheet. Appearing before the Milimani Law Courts on Thursday, she pleaded not guilty to the ten counts.

The court has now given her 45 days to resolve the matter with the Kenya Revenue Authority, failure to which the matter will proceed to full trial.

In the amended case, the Nakuru Senator's husband, Mr Joseph Karanja Muigai, has been removed since he is battling health issues.

State prosecutor Irene Muthee, who presented the new charges before Milimani senior principal magistrate Esther Kimilu, said “it is only her and Keroche Breweries Limited (KBL) who have been named in the fresh indictiment.” The fresh charges are born from the prosecution's request to amend the earlier charge sheets to remove his name.

Ms Karanja denied all the ten counts filed against her for fraud in relation to tax declarations on beer production and the dutiable amounts in Value Added Tax (VAT) and Excise Duty Returns to the Commissioner KRA.

She is accused that on diverse dates between February 15, 2015 and January 20, 2016, being a director of Keroche, she made incorrect statements in Excise Duty Returns by under declaring production volumes by 820,601 litres of Viena Ice beer brand by using Sh27.06 instead of Sh175, thereby reducing duty by Sh1.8 billion.

Another charge stated she under-declared the production of Viena Ice by 2,005,191 litres, causing the government to lose Sh1 billion. She had allegedly used Sh41.62 instead of Sh210.40 thereby reducing the VAT payable.

No out-of-court deal yet

Keroche's lawyers informed Ms Kimilu that the accused wants the matter resolved out of court. However, Irene Muthee, a KRA officer, told the court that there was no agreement to settle the matter out of court because Keroche would be required to notify the commissioner in writing under the Tax Procedure Act.

As a result, the court gave Keroche 45 days to begin the out-of-court settlement process (ADR), failing which the case will go to full trial from July 26 and 27, 2023. Ms Kimilu directed the taxman and the accused to appear before court to report on the progress of the ADR which courts encourage to reduce backlog.