Keroche Breweries owners Tabitha and Joseph Karanja arrested

Center: Joseph Karanja, Keroche Breweries director and husband of the company's CEO Tabitha Karanja, is led away by policemen. [Anthony Gitonga, Standard]
Keroche Breweries owners Tabitha Karanja and Joseph Karanja have been arrested over alleged Sh14.4b tax evasion following orders from the Director of Public  Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

The public prosecutor had on Wednesday ordered the arrest of Keroche Breweries Limited proprietors Tabitha Karanja and Joseph Karanja over allegations of Sh14 billion tax fraud.

The entrepreneurs through their lawyer James Orengo had on Thursday morning moved to court seeking to stop DPP Noordin Haji from prosecuting them for 10 counts of tax evasion.

Arrested: Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja enters a police car. [Anthony Gitonga, Standard]
The couple spent the night holed up in their office in Naivasha as DCI and KRA officers camped at the gate.

SEE ALSO :Tabitha: 'My competitors are after me'

Thursday afternoon, court issued a search and arrest warrant to DCI officers seeking to arrest the couple who had locked themselves in their factory in Naivasha.

Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Karanja has however rubbished allegations that she owes KRA Sh14 billion in unremitted taxes terming the claims as a new war by her competitors.

"I’m shocked by the new allegations levelled against me, my husband and Keroche Breweries and this is pure malice," she said.

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She questioned the timing of the arrest orders, just two weeks after she launched the KB Lager noting that the move was meant to intimidate her.

"This is a vendetta war launched by my competitors and am ready to face the taxman and the DPP to prove my innocence (sic)," she said.

SEE ALSO :DPP Haji trains his guns on Keroche

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has condemned the manner in which KRA is treating the owners of the company which has employed over 500 people directly.

In a statement, the governor said that the onslaught against investors could derail employment and investment opportunities in the county.

Kenyans also took to the social media to lash out at the government and defend the Naivasha-based company noting that this spelt doom for local entrepreneurs.

Allegations

Ordering the arrest, Mr Haji said Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Githii Mburu submitted an inquiry file to his office on August 18 and an audit which established that Keroche had evaded tax totalling Sh14,451,836,375.

SEE ALSO :Keroche bosses in court seeking to stop arrest

The inquiry relates to the alleged failure to pay tax on various products manufactured and sold by the company from January 2015 to June 2019.

The DPP noted that investigations revealed that the company evaded paying Sh12.34 billion Value Added Tax (VAT), Sh329.4 million for stamps and Sh135.4 million for Crescent Vodka among other products.

The Karanjas' arrest comes hot on the heels of the arrest and arraignment of another beverage impresario — Humphrey  Kariuki of  Wow Beverages and Africa Spirits over alleged tax evasion.

on  Monday, August 19, the billionaire appeared at the Milimani Law Courts in the company of lawyer Kioko Kilukumi to answer to charges of tax evasion.

Mr Kariuki and 10 others mainly drawn from Wow beverages and Africa Spirits are accused of among other things, evading tax amounting to more than Sh41 billion.

SEE ALSO :County defends embattled Keroche Breweries

The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said early this month he had gathered enough evidence to prosecute Kariuki and Stuart Gerald (Directors WOW beverages), Peter Kuria (Director Africa Spirits), Robert Murithi (Director WOW beverages and Geoffrey Kinoti (Director Africa Spirits).

Others to face the seven separate charges include Sethu Prabhu (Assistant production manager Africa Spirits), Eric Nzomba (Driver) and Kepha Gakure (Tax manager Africa Spirits).

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Keroche Breweriesabitha KaranjaJoseph KaranjaKeroche Industries