Kenyan tax officials arrested

14 May 19

Anti-corruption officials have arrested 75 Kenyan tax agency staff on suspicion of abetting tax evasion and bribery.

The crackdown on Friday is the latest effort by authorities in the East African country to battle graft, reported Reuters.

Reports on Monday indicated that 41 Kenya Revenue Authority suspects were due in court on charges of being part of a tax evasion racket.

A further 48 public officials have been ordered to surrender to the police, including others from the KRA and officials from the Customs and Border Control Department.

“Investigations into the rackets have been in progress for the last four months with covert assistance provided by national law enforcement agencies to help in trailing money and communication,” the KRA said in a statement.

The authority said that those arrested are accused of helping to clear cargo fraudulently and alter tax returns.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised to root out corruption although critics say he has been slow to act against senior officials and his commitments are “floundering”.

The detentions come as the government struggles to raise tax revenues to fund a budget set to grow 7.5% this financial year.

Government spending has been on an upward trend over the last decade from 22% of GDP in 2008-09 to 27% in 2017-18 but revenues have failed to keep pace.

Tax collection has lagged behind targets yet in January Kenya’s Finance Ministry forecast that the budget deficit will fall to 5% in the 2019-20 fiscal year from a peak last year of 6.8%.

Kenya’s government is preparing to borrow further on international capital markets amid concerns about spiralling debts.

In October, the IMF raised its assessment of the chance of Kenya’s external debt distress to moderate from low, warning that borrowing is raising fiscal vulnerabilities.

  • Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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