Two charged with tax evasion over imports of pricey vehicles
Girimani and Opanga are alleged to be the key masterminds behind the racket of fraudulent importation and registration of vehicles without payment of requisite taxes
A Kenya Revenue Authority customs officer believed to be part of a cartel that evades paying taxes when importing high-end vehicles was yesterday charged in a Nairobi court.
George Opanga was charged alongside businessman Elijah Girimani before chief magistrate Daniel Ogembo. Both denied several counts of conspiracy to evade taxes, buying uncustomed goods and fraudulently interfering with the KRA Simba online system.
The magistrate, however, ordered the two to be remanded at the Railways police station until Friday after the KRA prosecutor asked for five days, so police can complete investigations.
Girimani and Opanga are alleged to be the key masterminds behind the racket involving the fraudulent importation and registration of motor vehicles without payment of requisite taxes. Opanga is accused of conspiring with others not before the court to evade payment of Sh6.5 million import duty in respect of a Range Rover on July 16 at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Customs Warehouse.
He was also said to have altered the KRA Simba online system to reflect that the import duty had been paid via customs entry number F 147 of the said vehicle.
Girimani is accused of procuring uncustomed goods, though he knew duty amounting to Sh4,565,789 had not been paid on August 2 at the National Transport and Safety Authority offices along Upper Hill Road, Nairobi.
He denied that between July 8 and August 2, he conspired with others to procure uncustomed goods, thereby defrauding the Commissioner of Customs of more than Sh4.5 million.
The prosecution also alleges that Girimani also failed to register a Land Cruiser to evade Sh1,548,038 tax, and making a false declaration regarding the same vehicle. The court was told the accused persons were arrested on Sunday afternoon at the Malaba border, while attempting to leave the country.
The tax collector wanted the court to deny the accused bail, saying they are a flight risk and their co-associates are being traced by investigators.
Last week, the taxman deregistered 121 vehicles, whose owners were said to have acquired fraudulent registration.
Among those listed for deregistration was Water CS Eugene Wamalwa’s Range Rover (registered as an Isuzu truck).
The cases will be mentioned on Friday.
Elijah Girimani and George Opanga are led into Milimani law courts cells yesterday/