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A car imports syndicate involved in alleged tax evasion and flouting of vehicle age limit rules has been unearthed at the Mombasa port.
Officials from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and Kenya Revenue Authority have raided an upmarket property within Mombasa Island, where more than 70 vehicles were hidden, awaiting registration.
They suspected some of the vehicles — including several top of the range models, trucks and buses — were made more than 10 years ago and no duty had been paid.
The vehicles were illegally imported into the country by at least two leading used motor vehicle importers. After the seizure, the company directors were reported to have recorded statements with Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. They gave details on the imports.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards regulations specify that vehicles manufactured more than eight years ago should not be imported.
However, unscrupulous importers collude with port officials and ship in and sell vehicles above the stipulated age at the same prices as those for under eight-year-old ones, thus swindling buyers out of millions of shillings.
According to a source close to the case, investigations are being carried out to establish how the vehicles were imported and which officers colluded with the importers, including those from Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre.
All used cars imported into the country from Japan must be scrutinised at the Japan inspector centre, a Kenya Bureau of Standards-appointed agent that issues a certificate of roadworthiness, which should be produced when clearing the vehicle at the port.
Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission spokesman Nicholas Simani said the vehicles were held because of a number of malpractices, including possible duty evasion. The matter was still under investigation, he said.
“As we speak, the vehicles have been moved to a godown and placed in our custody. Investigations are still ongoing, and we will give more information concerning the syndicate soon,” he said.
“It is strange that some of the vehicles had been registered long before they were shipped into the country and we are working closely with Kenya Revenue Authority so that we ascertain how regulations were flouted,” Mr Simani added.
However, one of the importers has criticised both agencies for holding the vehicles, saying, there was no wrongdoing on the part of the company, and that they had supplied all the documents relating to the importation of the vehicles.
“Our customers, who had even paid for their cars, have not been able to get them, which has led to loss of business,” a company director, who declined to be named, said.
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland