The Court of Appeal has declined to certify a case filed by a company associated with businessman Kamlesh Pattni as urgent, putting its properties at risk of auction over a Sh2.2 billion debt.
Justice Martha Koome said in a ruling that she wasn’t convinced that the matter by Suzan General Trading JLT, also known as Suzan Duty Free, was urgent.
This was after she was informed that the company, which is being pursued by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), has filed multiple suits, among them a matter pending before the Tax Appeal Tribunal and another before the High Court.
“I am still not persuaded that this matter deserves to be certified as urgent for reasons that the applicant has invoked multiple jurisdictions,” said justice Koome.
Through lawyer Nyiha Mukoma, the company said KRA had already started knocking on its door through a notice dated July 9, 2018.
The notice, he said, was issued to Diplomatic Duty Free Company, a company he said was different from his client’s. He added that the amount that the taxman is demanding is disputed, therefore it would suffer if KRA went ahead with the auction.
KRA opposed the application saying the High Courthad already ruled that the proper forum to ventilate the dispute is the Tax Appeals Tribunal.
KRA accused the firm of “forum shaping having filed several matters before the Tax Appeals Tribunal” and another before the High Court.
In the petition, the taxman is seeking to seize and auction the firm’s properties to recover unpaid levies of Sh2.2 billion.
The taxman had hired Keysian Auctioneers to attach office furniture and fittings owned by the Pattni-associated Diplomatic Duty Free Limited over taxes of Sh784 million and penalties amounting to Sh1.459 billion.
Court records now show that auctioneers walked into a 2,137 square foot duty-free shop on the first floor of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s Wing B and secured several office furniture and fittings despite protests from the employees, who claimed that the agents had seized assets belonging to a different company.
Keysian Auctioneers was to make Sh88.3 million from the seizure and auction of Diplomatic Duty Free’s assets.
The duty-free shop raided by Keysian Auctioneers on July 9 was under the name Suzan General Trading JLT, which is also associated with Mr Pattni.
A day later, Suzan General wrote a protest letter to KRA demanding release of its property, with a threat to sue.