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A tax evasion scam has been unearthed at Mombasa port through which the government has lost more than Sh10 million in less than two months.

The scandal thrived by undervaluing imports, mainly from China and Dubai, so they pay less tax. It had in its fold importers, clearing agents and Kenya Revenue Authority officials.

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“We have seized six containers with the undervalued goods and further investigations are under way to establish which specific officers at Kenya Revenue Authority passed the entries for these imports,” Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission spokesman Nicholas Simani told journalists in Mombasa.

The containers arrived at the port between October 6 and 10 from China and Dubai. Two of them were declared to contain plastic shoes and clothes yet their actual merchandise was new clothes with a higher tax value.

Another container was declared as having new computers, yet there were only computers stuck among new clothes.

“The three other containers were declared to have pocket radios. On opening them we found high value electronic equipment such as home theatres, flat screen TV sets, Hi-fi systems and DVD players, meaning that the importers grossly underpaid taxes,” said Mr Simani.

According to investigators, customs officers cleared the imports even before they were offloaded from the ship, and fabricated documents indicating that the goods had been verified and left the port.

The syndicate has been operating for a long time and in the latest case, Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission detectives spent about two months tracking the movement of the goods.

All the six containers were imported and cleared by two sister companies owned by one individual. “These are only six containers and we estimate that several of find their way out of the port each day in this manner, depriving the government of millions of shillings,” Mr Simani added.

Sources close to the investigating team said the cartel has been operating for several years, adding that most of the goods of that type are destined for Eastleigh in Nairobi, where tax evasion cartels thrive.

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