A former Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) senior manager was Wednesday fined Sh2 million for soliciting and receiving a Sh15 million bribe from a businesswoman in order to lower her tax arrears by Sh420 million.
In a ruling, Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi, said the former Domestic Taxes Department (DTD) boss, Robert Maina Ngumi, will serve 18 months in prison if he fails to pay the fine.
Mr Ngumi was found guilty of soliciting and receiving the bribe from the businesswoman six years ago to facilitate the reduction of tax arrears owed to KRA from Sh439.9 million to Sh18.6 million.
“I am satisfied that there is enough evidence by the prosecution to establish corrupt solicitation and receipt of the alleged amount beyond reasonable doubt. I thus find him guilty and convict him accordingly,” ruled Mr Mugambi.
Mr Ngumi was charged with three counts of corruptly soliciting a benefit on three separate dates in March 2014 and receiving a bribe of $1,100 and another $148,900 in fake currency and treated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). He was convicted of the first count of corruptly soliciting a benefit and receiving a bribe while he was acquitted on the other counts.
He received the bribe from Winfrida Wanjiku Ngumi as an inducement to issue a letter reducing her tax arrears by Sh420 million. The prosecution presented 11 witnesses who testified against him during the trial of the case that started in 2014.
The court heard that Mr Ngumi sought a secret meeting with the businesswoman to review her tax arrears ahead of a visit to her firm by KRA auditors. The meeting was scheduled to be held just a few days before the KRA field team was expected at her company for a final audit review.
Ms Wanjiku reported the matter to EACC detectives who accompanied her to the private meeting held at the Southern Sun Hotel in Westlands, Nairobi.
On March 11, 2014, unknown to the accused, the officers visited the hotel earlier, sat at a distance and observed the two as they had their conversation, also recorded on a gadget that Ms Wanjiku had been given by the EACC officers.
Mr Ngumi told Ms Wanjiku to have the money converted into dollars as one of the measures to avoid raising suspicion and for ease of movement.
While two other meetings had been previously held at Boulevard Hotel, it is this specific meeting that saw the accused handed an envelope with genuine $1,100 and fake $148,900.
In his defence, Mr Ngumi claimed that the matter was fabricated and denied the charges. His lawyer cited the fact that the recording that was presented in court as evidence did not show their faces, arguing that there was confusion in the recording given that the accused and the complainant shared the same last name, Ngumi.
But Ms Wanjiku, while arguing that her company had no tax arrears, told court that the indepth audit was not concluded because her firm was never served with the final report by the taxman after it disputed the initial findings.
Editor's note: The previous online and the print versions of this story confused the judge's name and the accused in the last paragraphs. This has been corrected.