Kenya Revenue Authority has in the past three years sacked 35 employees involved in tax fraud, in a fresh corruption purge meant to plug leakages that cost the country billions of shillings in tax revenues.
The taxman has also revealed that it handled a total of 148 cases involving “unethical conduct” between July 2013 and September this year.
The cases involved tax-related misconduct such as theft, cheating on tax returns and declarations, corruption, collusion, and soliciting bribes from tax cheats.
KRA said 23 other cases involving tax officials are ongoing in the courts, and seven staff have been compulsorily retired.
The taxman made the revelations in response to questions as to whether it had conducted the lifestyle audit on staff that President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered one year ago.
“A staff vetting framework has been developed to determine suitability for employment at KRA. Names of all senior staff have been forwarded to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for background checks and necessary action,” KRA said in response to our questions.
“Staff who contravene the provisions of the code of ethics are subjected to the disciplinary process as stipulated.”
KRA’s rare disclosure follows in the footsteps of Safaricom and KCB Bank, the only Kenyan companies that have openly revealed the number of staff kicked out over fraud and professional negligence.
Mr Kenyatta gave the vetting directive in October 2015, saying the agency had constantly failed to meet tax collection targets, amid fears that KRA employees were lining their pockets with potential tax funds.
Total tax collection in the year to June 2016 was Sh1.21 trillion, narrowly falling short of the targeted Sh1.29 trillion. The target for the current period ending June 2017 is Sh1.44 trillion, a projected growth of 12 per cent.
Bribes paid to tax officials jumped the highest last year, according to Transparency International’s 2015 bribery survey.
The study also found that the average size of bribe to KRA officers more than doubled to Sh6,815 from Sh3,400 in 2014.
“Lifestyle audits should be supported by a robust wealth declaration system that will ensure routine and accurate asset disclosures that are made public,” said Transparency International.
The integrity of KRA officials has of late come into sharp focus due to an upsurge in the number of tax fraud cases involving tax officers, especially customs officers and those in the road transport department.
For instance, rogue KRA officials were said to be at the centre of a tax-evasion racket involving 124 luxury vehicles, which had skirted paying duty worth more than Sh600 million.
Credit: Business Daily