Corruption News

Kenya tax staff to wear cameras in war on bribes


The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) says its workers will start wearing body-worn cameras in the latest bid to curb tax cheating and bribery.

The Business Daily reported that the body cams would be used by staff who work in the domestic tax department and customs and border control.

Some KRA staff have been accused of helping fraudulently clear cargo and alter tax returns to help people dodge duty payments. This has seen the workers amass multimillion-shilling assets including real estate and posh cars that are not consistent with their pay.

“Very soon we will also be ensuring our enforcement officers have body-worn cameras, like the ones you see in the US, so that any action they take is recorded and we can see it. When you put it off, we will also have to understand why you do it,” KRA Commissioner General Githii Mburu told Business Daily.

The use of cameras will start in high-value locations like the border points, Mombasa port, the Inland Container Depot and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

In 2019, KRA interdicted tens of workers for abetting tax evasion after being under covert watch for four months involving trailing their money and communication, commonly referred to as wiretapping.

Last month, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) asked the High Court to compel a former KRA supervisor to forfeit property worth Sh278 million to the State, saying he acquired them through bribes.

The anti-graft agency told the court that Jeremiah Kamau Kinyua, who left KRA in March 2021, used his corrupt dealings to amass the property in a seven-year period when his net salary was Sh11.6 million.

The tax agency, through its enhanced tax collection and recovery efforts, anticipates that it will exceed its revenue collection target by Sh140 billion in the current fiscal year, eyeing Sh2 trillion in total collections for the period.

Mr Mburu says KRA is also looking to improve surveillance on premises producing excisable products such as alcoholic drinks by accessing real-time CCTV feed from factory floors to monitor the movement of products.

In order to fight excise evasion by alcohol manufacturers, the agency is also planning to install sensors in storage tanks to monitor the usage of raw materials, which will inform the volume of finished products.

The agency estimates that it loses Sh12 billion every year from excise tax evasion alone, and is using data and intelligence surveillance to catch tax cheats.

KRA is also set to intensify its crackdown on wealthy tax evaders, 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 national revenues.

KRA detectives have identified firms and wealthy individuals that owe it hundreds of billions of shillings.

Tax cheats
Rich self-employed professionals like doctors, real estate investors, and lawyers as well as wealthy individuals will be in the crosshairs of the taxman.

The tax cheats risk travel bans, collection of duty directly from their suppliers and bankers, and prosecution in what promises to be the biggest crackdown yet on high net-worth persons.

The KRA is racing to bring more people into the tax brackets and curb tax cheating and evasion in the quest to meet targets.

The KRA enforcement unit has been using various databases to pursue suspected tax cheats, among them bank statements, import records, motor vehicle registration details, Kenya Power records, water bills and data from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA), which reveal individuals who own assets such as helicopters.

Car registration details are also being used to smoke out individuals who are driving high-end vehicles but have little to show in terms of taxes remitted.

The Kenya Power meter registrations are helping the taxman to identify landlords, some of whom have been slapped with huge tax demands.

*Written by Charles Mwaniki

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