A leading alcoholic distilling company suspected to be selling counterfeited alcoholic products including illegal repackaging of fruit juices is believed to be running a powerful racket of counterfeited products in collusion with rogue officials from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA).
The firm which has previously been on the limelight over allegations of selling alcoholic beverages affixed with counterfeit excise stamps to distributors is said to operate three go-downs along Mombasa Road, Ruiru and off-Kangundo Road respectively ostensibly to conceal their clandestine operations.
“Some of the go-downs have basement floors where the illicit trade of packaging of illicit spirits, repackaging the counterfeited fruit juices and affixing fake KRA stamps are conducted.” A source told The Informer.
They are also said to smuggle ethanol from Tanzania through the Namanga border.
According to impeccable sources, the proprietors, some known to harbour political ambitions and fond of dropping name of senior government officials and their top-notch political connections are said to ferry youthful men using lorries with closed truck containers while completely closed in the dead of the night to ensure they don’t get to know the actual direction or location of the hideout from where they conduct the illicit tasks.
They are then dropped off at a basement parking from where they are picked and dropped back from their centralized pick up points; notably in Kangemi or Githogoro slums in Nairobi.
Further, the masterminds are said to be using a single Electronic Tax Register (ETR) machine issued for the main factory to run a chain of liquor stores across the city ostensibly to evade tax.
A recent study by the Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA), conducted between October 2019 and February 2020, indicates that illicit trade denied Kenya Sh103billion in revenue in 2018.
This was up from Sh101.23billion in 2017.
A national survey by ACA in 2019 revealed that the value of illicit trade in Kenya is at about Sh726 billion.
Overall, illicit trade denies the taxman up to Sh153.1 billion in potential revenue annually.
The survey revealed that counterfeiting is eating into genuine brands’ market share, including local producers, has seen at least 44,000 jobs lost in the country every year mainly in manufacturing, the agency notes.