Anti-graft detectives on Monday smashed a multi-million-shilling car import racket which disregards the eight-year rule.
The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission had been investigating the syndicate, which involved the importation of 32 vehicles using forged documents because they are more than eight years old.
The racket involving importers, clearing agents and Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Revenue Authority officials, is characterised by falsifying importation documents, including the bills of lading and pre-shipment certificates that are supposed to confirm the year of manufacture.
The agency’s spokesman, Mr Nicholas Simani, said that they arrested seven suspects, among them four KRA officials.
“The other officials under our custody include those from Kebs, importers of the vehicles and the clearing agencies,” he said.
They will be arraigned in a Mombasa court on Tuesday where the KRA and Kebs officials will be charged with abuse of office and wilful neglect of official duty.
The importers and the clearing agents will be charged with conspiracy to defraud and using false and forged documents.
Most of the vehicles impounded were manufactured in 2000, but documents presented to clear them show that they were manufactured in 2002.
KRA introduced stringent measures to ensure vehicles older than eight years did not enter the country.
The authority inspects vehicles before they are off-loaded from ships to ensure that they meet set standards. Those that fail are sent back to their ports of origin.
In the past month, KRA has sent back about five ships with an undisclosed number of vehicles.
KACC moved to investigate this particular racket after the Nation exclusively revealed that car dealers were conning Kenyans out of millions of shillings by selling them old vehicles.
According to various agencies, the vehicle importation racket masterminded by unscrupulous car dealers, had seen buyers pay high prices for cars that are 10-15 years old.
The racketeers target top-of-the-range vehicles. Documents seen by the Nation, show some of vehicles are allowed into the local market after traders get exemptions for Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity which is mandatory for all imports.
Talking to Daily Nation on Monday shortly after the arrest, Mr Simani revealed that KACC had shared its investigations with the Attorney general’s office for Mr Amos Wako’s legal opinion.
“The AG (Mr Wako) concurred with our recommendations that those involved be arrested and prosecuted,” said Mr Simani.
The Kenya bureau of Standards will there after decides what to do with the vehicles. It has an option of re-shipping them to the country of origin of destroying them altogether.
The racketeers target top of the range vehicles including Toyota Prados, Land Cruisers, Pajeros which they later sell to influential businessmen and politicians, at least according to a clearing agent conversant with the syndicate said.
According to available documents seen earlier by the Daily Nation, some of vehicles are allowed into the local market after traders get exemptions for Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity which is mandatory for all imports.
Article Written by: Samwel Kumba
Posted on: Daily Nation Online