Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has heightened the war on illegal trade and smuggling of multi-million goods at the Port of Mombasa.
The latest crackdown saw KRA together with multi-agency taskforce intercepting stolen high-end vehicles from United Kingdom (UK) with value of Sh55, 231,587.
A Mombasa businessman has since been arrested after presenting himself to the shipping line to clear the goods on transit to Uganda.
Mr Ali Abdalla Ali was on Friday arraigned before a Mombasa Court and charged for improper declaration of imports and concealment of expensive vehicles that were stolen from Uganda.
According to Commissioner of Investigation and Enforcement Department David Yego, the description of the goods was indicated as ‘household items’ whereas upon scanning and verification, two Range Rovers and a Mercedes Benz were found inside the container.
Yego said Interpol confirmed that the three motor vehicles with tax implication of Sh14, 080,341 were stolen from UK.
“Investigations are still ongoing to identify and arrest other culprits who are part of this organized racket,” said the KRA official.
He said the Authority in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies will scale up the war to detect, disrupt and prosecute criminals who use the Port of Mombasa to perpetrate illicit trade.
Mr Ali who denied the charge when he appeared before Mombasa Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti, was released on Sh2 million bond or cash bail of Sh200, 000.
At the same court, two businesswomen were charged with two counts of being in possession of uncustomed goods worth Sh2, 113,668 as well as defaulting on a value added tax (VAT) obligation amounting to Sh578, 060.
The court heard that Ms Aswila Mwinyi Mvita and Mariam Barako, being directors of Renascentia International Limited on diverse dates between 20th July and 20th October, 2019, failed to register for and to remit VAT despite falling within the required threshold.
The two accused who pleaded not guilty and were released on Sh2 million bond or cash bail of Sh200, 000 were also found with assorted uncustomed goods on 21st October, 2019 at their business premises within Mombasa County.
Both the two cases are set for hearing on 22nd January, 2020.
In March this year, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) also intercepted three high-end motor vehicles concealed as household goods and hidden in two forty-foot containers at the Port of Mombasa.
This was discovered during a Customs clearance process where import documents indicated that the consignment originated from the United Kingdom and was on transit to Uganda.
During the cargo verification process, scanner images did not match with information in the importation documents
‘This prompted Customs officials together with the multi-agency taskforce which includes National Intelligence Service (NIS), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Interpol, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to undertake 100% verification of the containers,’ said Agonda.
One of the containers was said to have assorted household goods, a Vauxhall Insignia Elite and a Nissan Juke.
However, upon verification, it was found to contain a Range Rover Sport and a Range Rover Vogue SE. The consignor was listed as Mr Aruchan Ivan of United Kingdom and the consignee as Mr Aruchan Ivan.
The second container import documents indicated that it had one used Toyota YARIS VVT-1 and household goods. A verification exercise revealed a Land Rover discovery HSE TD 6 strategically concealed. The consignor was listed as Mr Kibalama Bocan of United Kingdom and the consignee as Mr Kibalama Bocan of Kampala Uganda.
The interception is seen as the latest achievement of the non-intrusive cargo scanner installed at the Port of Mombasa to address the challenges of concealments, misdeclaration, illicit flows and importation of counterfeits.
Recently, Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata asked police and other security agencies to be vigilant against smuggling of contraband and illicit goods at border points.
By Mohamed Hassan