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KRA refutes graft claims at Mombasa port

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 22- Kenya Revenue Authority has refuted claims that it has not taken appropriate action on some of its corrupt officials at the port of Mombasa as alleged in a section of the press.

Deputy Commissioner Kennedy Onyonyi on Tuesday defended the body saying it could not have taken action against any of its officials for allegedly being corrupt if there was no evidence to support such allegations.

He said it was impossible to hold anyone accountable for the vice without proof adding that anyone with evidence to the contrary should volunteer the information to the unit and the police.

“There were cases of glaring misrepresentation of facts and therefore the authority would not act based on fabrication or hearsay. However if indeed, in the process of carrying out their investigations, they showed us a clip showing a KRA employee receiving bribes we would have taken measures,” he stated.

He added that issues of corruption were rampant in the Kenyan society and that KRA should not be singled out: “Corruption thrives in our society and KRA is not an exception when it comes to investigations of corruption issues.”

He also stated that no tax money was lost in the corruption case that was recently highlighted in the media. He explained that the unit’s verification process made it almost impossible for tax payers’ money to be lost fraudulently.

“The importer has to clear the goods and verification has to be done prior to the release of the goods. It is done at the point of entry; goods cannot be verified when they have already left. If we find that the value of the goods has been underrated, we uplift it and ensure that the appropriate taxes are paid including penalties,” he explained.

“Verification is used to seal loopholes which may otherwise be used by importers or their agents. Our officials use this process to check whether the goods that have been imported tally with the goods that have been declared,” he explained.

He added that KRA had never sympathized with any officials who were caught up in corrupt deals.

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“On our part for the last 18 months we have sacked more than 60 of our employees because they lacked integrity. We have also taken disciplinary action against 162 members of staff for corruption, theft, fraud and complicity in tax evasion out of which 54 percent were customs officers. This shows that we do not take impunity and corruption issues lightly,” he said.

Mr Onyonyi further said that the body had instituted measures to eradicate the vice within its ranks and ensured that it collected all revenue due to the government.

“KRA has fully embraced the Public Sector Integrity Programme and all KRA departments and regions have Corruption Prevention Committees which meet regularly. We carry out Corruption Risk Assessment on regular basis and take action on findings,” he stated.

He also asked members of the public and all shareholders to forward information that linked its officials to corrupt deals.

“We realise that it takes two to tango and we are appealing to everyone to reign in on those within our midst who are party to corrupt dealings,” he said.

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