NAIROBI, Kenya, February 21- The Kenya Revenue Authority has denied allegations their officers at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport demanded a bribe from an importer bringing training equipment allegedly belonging to double World marathon champion, Abel Kirui.
In a statement dispatched to newsrooms on Thursday, the taxman also discounted the charge that the said importer was required to pay taxes on the same goods.
“We made initial contact with Abel Kirui, the athlete on whose behalf they claim they brought the goods. He expressed surprise as he was not aware of any sports gear belonging to him being detained at the airport then.
“He has since assisted us identify the person who brought in the goods in his name. However, it is worth noting that the person has since vanished and abandoned the goods at Customs,” KRA’s statement read.
The taxman was responding to a press article titled ‘Taxman killing the ‘hen’ that lays the athletes gold’ that was published on Valentine’s Day that drew terse reaction from a number of readers.
“The goods in question attracted taxes under the East African Community Customs Management Act Part B(5) as they were gifts brought into the country by a third party. This could have not applied if Kirui came with them in person,” the taxman explained.
KRA then warned: “We suspect there are some sports agents who try to sneak into the country sports gear purportedly for use by sportsmen, without their knowledge, only to convert them to commercial use. We will take deterrent measures on the culprits once identified.”
Efforts to reach Kirui who is training for the upcoming season in Iten bore no fruits by the time of posting this article.
He first won the world title in Berlin 2009 with a championship record before successfully defending in Daegu, South Korea two years later. Kirui who is preparing for April 21’s London Marathon, bagged the second medal when the Olympics were held in the same city last summer.
Mixed reactions followed the posting of the said article.
“Well they are supposed to pay tax it does not matter as long as the media and wherever declares that is the amount they earned from wherever but detaining for briber is another case.
“They earn so much they should pay tax, the common who earns nothing pays that, they earn billions they pay tax, it does not whether or where they earned the money irrespective of where they earned if or not paid there tax, they declare how much they earned in a year and pay tax on it. Okay,” Jenepher Nalyanya remarked.
“KRA, leave our heroes alone. Tax the MPs and other state officials first. No wonder athletes defect to Qatar then we start complaining,” another posting as Recard, commented.