Cartel swaps coffee with ballast in tax evasion ploy

A cargo dumping cartel about to be confronted by officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority, replaced sacks of coffee beans with ballast in a tax evasion scheme.

A truck ferrying the beans from Uganda valued at Sh3.2 million shillings, is said to have broken its electronic seals around Eldoret town before being flagged by the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking system from Times Tower in Nairobi.

When KRA’s Rapid Response Unit impounded the truck it was too late. The cabal had replaced the coffee from Kampala based Great Lakes Coffee Company Limited with ballast after sensing an impending siege.

Police, however, recovered a portion of the commodity hidden in a private residence within the area.

“RRU Eldoret received a seal broken alert from the Cargo Monitoring Centre in Times Towers on a vehicle carrying coffee from Uganda destined for Belgium. Upon tracing the location, it led them to a private residence where part of the coffee consignment from the said truck was found. The culprits had stuffed bags with wet ballast after removing the coffee,” read an incident brief shared among Northern Corridor Transit Patrol Unit seen by Nation.

Eldoret and Luanda near Kisumu have been flagged as dumping hot spots where transit cargo is removed, evading billions of shillings in tax. Transit cargo along the Northern Corridor to countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan and DRC has been prone to dumping and KRA requires the cargo to be transported only in trucks fitted with electronic monitors.

The taxman recently accused the cargo tracking service provider of manipulating their systems to allow a multibillion shilling cargo dumping with some trucks according to the vendors’ systems, taking just 42 minutes to cover the close to 1,000 kilometres between Mombasa and Malaba border.

The KRA audit on the vendors’ systems also found that some lorries loaded with cargo for export remained ‘on transit’ for months while a few destined for Burundi and South Sudan were found to be terminating their journeys in Nairobi, Luanda and Eldoret.

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