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Kenyan tax man caught sleeping on the job as $8.03 billion of repatriated money disappears without a trace

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) offices at Times Tower
  • On Tuesday, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) said it was unsure how the repatriated billions had been spent.
  • In 2016, the Kenyan Treasury announced the amnesty programme in an effort to attract wealthy Kenyan investors who had opted for offshore investments.
  • It now looks like crafty and crooked investors may have used the amnesty to clean dirty money only to later ship it out to foreign capitals.

The Kenyan tax man cannot account for a whopping Sh803 billion ($8.03 billion) that wealthy Kenyans wired back into the country from offshore accounts in the last three years following government amnesty.

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On Tuesday, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) said it was not sure whether the repatriated money was used for the intended purpose of development or shipped back to offshore investments after receiving clearance from the State.

“We didn’t come up with a policy to say if you have brought in money, you cannot take it back again. And my fear now is that I might be holding on applications of (repatriated) funds which have already taken flight again,”  KRA commissioner for domestic taxes, Elizabeth Meyo, told an ICPAK meeting held in Nairobi, Business Daily reported. 

In 2016, the Kenyan Treasury announced the amnesty programme in an effort to attract wealthy Kenyan investors who had opted for offshore investments in an attempt to mask the source of their wealth. As part of the deal Kenyan investors were not required to declare the source of their wealth or even account for previous years’ tax arrears.

About 3,403 applicants took advantage of the three-year amnesty window to repatriate the billions of cash tax-free.

KRA slept on the job

It’s now coming to light, however, that KRA may have been ‘sleeping on the job’.

“It’s an issue we are going to look at very critically because I am not seeing the impact of repatriated funds in the economy because Sh803 billion is a lot of money. If it’s true that it came back and it’s in the economy, we would have seen investments going up.”

The accountants’ lobby had hosted the meeting to review the impact of the cash wired from offshore accounts on the Kenyan economy.

Experts now opine crafty and crooked investors may have used the amnesty to clean dirty money only to later ship it out to foreign capitals that could have questioned the initial origins of the income and assets.

A report by an American think tank, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), last year revealed that Kenya’s super-rich were holding more than Sh5 trillion in offshore tax havens across the world.

The money that KRA says was repatriated in the three-year period is equivalent to about 30% of national wealth or gross domestic product (GDP).

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