Tabitha Karanja: I do not own Keroche, I am just an employee

Tabitha Karanja

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja addresses a campaign rally at Nakuru Showground on January 26, 2022.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Faced by legal hurdles over allegations of tax evasion, Keroche Breweries Chief Executive officer Tabitha Karanja has defended her bid to run for the Nakuru senatorial race by distancing herself from the ongoing tax dispute between the company and the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Ms Karanja who is facing a petition filed by a Nakuru resident seeking to block her from contesting for the seat over her company’s failure to remit tax amounting to Sh1 billion, distanced herself from the company claiming to be a mere employee of the liquor company.

Appearing virtually before the Nakuru high court Judge Joel Ngugi, Ms Karanja who is running on United Democratic Alliance party ticket denied owning the company noting that she ought to be treated as an individual private person.

She dismissed the petitioner as a bitter election nomination loser who is trying to weaponise chapter six of the constitution and the leadership and integrity Act to unfairly edge her out of the race.

“I am employed by the Keroche Breweries Limited as a director and CEO but not the owner of the company as alleged by the petitioner. In any event I do not understand what the tax relations of Keroche have to do with me as a private person distinct from the company,” stated KaranjaShe urged the court to dismiss the petition which she termed as a political witch hunt from her political competitors.

In the petition filed by Mr Daniel Mahiri on May 12, the petitioner is seeking orders to declare Karanja unfit to hold public office for failing to meet the requirements of chapter six of the constitution and leadership and integrity Act.

Mr Mahiri claims Ms Karanja who has admitted to evading tax remittance amounting to Sh957 million which is a crime in law and has agreed on a settlement plan proves that she is guilty of tax evasion and thus ought to be characterized properly as a criminal who is unfit to hold public office.

The petitioner has argued that the Keroche boss is a notorious tax evader with pending cases in court as well as has a history of defaulting on repayment agreement with the KRA.

In his petition he has attached documents from the registrar of companies indicating that Ms Karanja owns over 90 percent share of the company with the remaining share distributed among her children.

Mr Mahiri wants Ms Karanja declared non-compliant with chapter six and eight of the constitution thus unfit to hold public office and the office of the member of parliament.

He also wants orders barring Ms Karanja from contesting in August 9 general elections, either as UDA candidate or as independent.

Ms Karanja, the UDA party, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, KRA, EACC and the office of the Ombudsman have been listed as respondents in the case.

Justice Ngugi on Tuesday certified the matter as urgent and directed parties to appear in court on June 29 for oral submissions.