The taxman has fired five officers working at the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (Rects) in the latest case of staff involvement in tax evasion schemes.
Sources said the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) sacked the employees last week and put them under investigations on suspicion of tampering with the system to help rogue traders divert transit cargo.
“They were trying to manipulate the system. We have forwarded their names to the DCI for investigations and prosecution,” a senior official at KRA who did not wish to be named said.
This is the latest case of insider involvement in tax evasion after recent crackdown that saw tens of KRA employees being dragged to court, most of them from customs and domestic tax divisions.
It also calls to question the agency’s ethics and integrity screening that has been on in the last three years.
It is believed that customs officers have frequently manipulated the electronic system to divert cargo meant for re-exports back into the country at lower tax liabilities.
President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the Rects system in October last year in much fanfare where operations were demonstrated to show how watertight the system was.
“There should be no room for tax evaders to thrive in Kenya, criminal cartels like those smuggling imported taxable goods through our ports of entry ought to be easily detected and contained in the shortest time possible,” President Kenyatta said at the time.
Launched in March 2017, the system enables real time tracking of transit cargo from the port of Mombasa to its final destination through an online digital platform.
Its precursor, the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) which was managed by private sector vendors did not achieve the desired outcome and was therefore faced out.
Rects comprises satellites, a monitoring centre and special electronic seals fitted on cargo containers and trucks which give precise location of goods at any time.