The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has sealed airports and border points in search of a billionaire Jubilee Party campaign financier wanted over Sh2.2 billion unpaid taxes from big-ticket State tenders in agencies like the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) and the military.
The taxman issued the alert to seal the border points, including Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), to prevent Mary Wambui Mungai from leaving the country after she skipped court to answer to charges of failing to pay taxes between 2014 and last year.
In June, the businesswoman failed to appear before the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) as directed, claiming she was in Zambia for undisclosed business deals.
Ms Mungai’s failure to appear before the KRA for the second time on December 3 left the taxman fretting over the possibility of her fleeing.
Her lawyer appeared before anti-corruption court chief magistrate Felix Kombo on Monday and said she was been hospitalised since November 29. However, no medical records were provided to support the claim.
Mr Kombo rejected her application to delay the plea taking for at least 10 days and instead issued a warrant for her arrest.
Ms Mungai together with her daughter, Purity Njoki Mungai, are wanted to answer eight counts related to failure to pay taxes through a company known as Purma Holdings.
They are accused of omitting from the company’s income tax returns amounting to Sh2.2 billion, which should have been included in the filing submitted for the years between 2014 and 2020.
In the ruling, Mr Kombo said the duo was buying time instead of confronting the KRA charges. The magistrate noted that the charges were serious.
Ms Mungai, a member of the Friends of Jubilee Foundation lobby which raised millions of shillings for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election campaign in 2017 in two hours, was first summoned by the KRA in June, along with her daughters to shed light on the alleged unpaid taxes.
Her daughters later obtained a court order stopping their arrest for snubbing KRA summons.
The taxman is pursuing Ms Mungai over alleged unpaid taxes for the billions of shillings earned from government tenders for supplying boots, uniforms and cereals to the military, among other State departments. The charges include the non-payment of Sh2.2 billion and failure to submit tax returns for 2018 and 2019.
The taxman says Ms Mungai and her two daughters earned billions of shillings between 2014 and 2019 through their company Purma Holdings.
The Treasury has announced a new crackdown on wealthy tax evaders as part of its commitment to the country’s creditors, setting the stage for travel bans, asset freeze and deactivation of Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
The clampdown is revealed in a commitment that Kenya made to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to recover unpaid taxes from high-net-worth professionals and traders in efforts to raise the national revenues.
The KRA says it has been conducting investigations on tax obligations by Purma Holdings for the past two years. The KRA says the directors of the company were summoned on June 25 but failed to appear.
Instead, their lawyer appeared before the KRA and sought an extension of the summons to June 28. Come the appointed day, says the KRA, the lawyer said the clients would not be attending because Ms Mungai was out of the country.
Fearing their arrest, her two daughters rushed to court seeking anticipatory bail.
Ms Njoki and her sister Everlyn Nyambura had also claimed that they resigned from the company on August 28, 2019, and transferred their shares to their mother.
On Monday, Mr Kombo directed the case to be mentioned on December 14.
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