Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa’s Range Rover SUV is among 121 vehicles deregistered by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for fraudulent registrations and tax evasion.
Mr Wamalwa’s vehicle had been registered as an Isuzu truck and has been held at KRA’s railways yard in Nairobi since June.
The minister’s personal assistant Kizito Temba, who had earlier told Nation that the registration problem was caused by KRA since the error could have been detected during transfer of the log book to his boss, could not be reached for comment over the latest development.
The tax man, who issued a notice last June calling for the presentation of 124 vehicles for clearance, took the move after owners failed to respond.
In another joint public notice with the National Transport and Safety Authority, KRA listed the 121 vehicles suspected to have evaded duty amounting to close to Sh500 million and asked their owners to surrender their registration documents for cancellation.
“Pursuant to the Public Notice published on 10th June 2016, the Authority hereby invokes Section 6 (10) and Section 6(11) of the Traffic Act, Cap. 403 Laws of Kenya and withdraws the registration numbers with effect from the date of this notice. The Authority has reasonable ground to believe the motor vehicle registration numbers have been obtained in error, fraudulently or in a manner contrary to the provisions of the Traffic Act,” the joint notice read.
A month after the initial notice that listed the cars required to be presented at KRA’s railways yard, only 12 vehicles had been presented out of which three were cleared.
“Only 12 vehicles were presented and only three have been cleared as having no further issues. Those who have not presented the vehicles continue to violate the law and may be charged for being in possession of unaccustomed goods among other violations.” KRA acting Commissioner in charge of investigations and enforcement told Nation in an email response.
KRA had given the owners 14 days to present them for clearance after it emerged that they had been registered improperly.
One of the individuals who presented his car when KRA listed it, was shocked at the move citing frustrations after he volunteered it for investigations.
The businessman, whose car was financed by a local banks, now says he has been repaying the loan despite having it parked at the internal container depot along Mombasa Road since May.
“The puzzle here is that I did my search at KRA and everything was fine. Since I was being financed by the bank, they also did a thorough due diligence before financing me. I was even more assured when the log book was transferred to my name successfully. I am afraid they are going to be crushed after being deregistered while the majority who never presented theirs will keep having them, even if illegally,” the vehicle owner who sought anonymity toldNation.
After clearing three vehicles out of those presented in May, KRA has nine vehicles in custody at the ICD depot.
The motor vehicle syndicate capable of altering records at the registrar’s office is said to be motivated by tax evasion and smuggling of vehicles beyond the eight-year age limit.
KRA said it had launched investigations to find out whether its staff members were involved in the dirty deals that had bled the tax man billions in revenues from imported cars.
The vehicles are mostly those stolen overseas while others pass the port as transit cargo destined for Uganda or South Sudan hence evading duty.
The cargo is then diverted mid-way and a fake number plate or one from accident vehicles given to them.
That the 121 cars fully identified by KRA with chassis numbers, registration numbers and owners laid bare failed to be presented to the tax man and none has been impounded, depicts the crafty abilities the cartel has amassed to frustrate authorities.
The vehicles will most likely continue to operate even after deregistration, denying KRA the millions in revenues as more cars continue to flood the Kenyan market from Asia and Europe.