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Kenya: BAT Scandal – Raila Tried to Stop KRA From Freezing Mastermind Tobacco Accounts

Raila Odinga “intervened” to stop Kenya Revenue Authority from freezing Mastermind Tobacco Kenya’s accounts over non payment of taxes amounting to billions.

In the letter dated May 4, 2010, the office of the Prime Minister wrote to then KRA boss Michael Waweru to “immediately suspend notices issued to Mastermind Kenya asking for payment within 50 days”.

Raila was Prime Minister at the time.

“You are requested to put on hold the enforcement action you have instituted against Mastermind Tobacco Kenya Limited in order to facilitate further review of the matter,” read the letter signed by acting PS Andrew Mondoh.

“Meanwhile, a meeting to discuss is scheduled to be held on May 12, 2010, at 10am, between your office, Treasury and Mastermind Kenya Limited on the 14th floor boardroom, Treasury building.”

This comes after former BAT employee Paul Hopkins admitted offering KRA officials hefty bribes for access to rival Mastermind’s tax files and directing the taxman to demand the amounts due.

The Independent reported Hopkins, who headed the Anti-illicit Trade team, ran a “sophisticated corporate spying operation involving “black ops” to put rival cigarette makers out of business”.

Early Tuesday, Kenya Revenue Authority said it will work with the anti-graft agency to ensure full and proper details are availed in a probe into the BAT scandal.

KRA was mentioned in the controversial BAT scam after one of its employees, Mary M’Mukindia, was alleged to have been the conduit for a Sh7.5 million alleged bribe paid to Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua presidential campaign.

Karua denied the allegations while the Authority refuted claims M’Mukindia was their employee.

Commissioner general John Njiraini said the Authority held discussions with EACC after media reports highlighted “alleged unethical relations between staff of BAT and unspecified staff at KRA”.

In regard to allegations that BAT sought “to obtain confidential KRA tender documents to assist in their bidding”, Njiraini said the Authority was “not aware of any attempts made by BAT to influence past tendering processes”.

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