Corporate Fraud

Keroche Breweries Tax Woes Linked To DP Ruto’s Cash Injection

Deputy President William Ruto and Mrs. Tabitha Karanja during the launch of the Keroche Foundation at the Laico Regency.May 27th, 2014 PICTURE REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS

The Keroche Breweries tax fraud case seems to have somehow stalled. This is not by chance, there’s a big fish in the mix.

Recently, the Keroche Breweries owners even taunted Director of Public Prosecutions to speed up and complete the case in the same way the arrests were publicised.

It is now emerging that the Deputy President William Ruto, using money stolen from the public in the 3.6-billion-dollar Standard Gauge Railways (SGR) inflated projects, made a badly-needed funds injection to the Naivasha-based brewer.

Sources intimate that Ruto pumped Ksh. 5 billion into Keroche, funds that have now brought woes to the company. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why and more why Kericho is being investigated for tax fraud.

It is said that Keroche, which was at that time struggling, declared the money, that was given to it by DP Ruto’s proxy companies in China as a loan. Detectives later uncovered that though the Ksh.5 billion was declared as a loan, there were no evidence of subsequent repayments.

This and other tax fraud led to the arrest and prosecution of the founders, Ms.Tabitha Karanja and her husband Mr. Joseph Karanja.

Deep Pockets

The same China-registered, DP Ruto affiliated company also funded another scandal ridden firm, Bidco which was then led by Vimal Shah.

When the money, a Kshs, 5 billion, came in; Bidco was struggling to pay its creditors and staff.

It is not a secret that DP Ruto warmed up to the these two companies.

In May 27th, 2014, DP Ruto and Keroche CEO Tabitha Karanja were publicly seen during the launch of the Keroche Foundation at the Laico Regency.

Kenya Revenue Authority sleuths tipped officials from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) who have so far unearthed serious tax evasion cover-ups by Keroche Industries.

DCI upon competing investigation handed the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who ordered the arrest and arraignment on the 21st August, answer to charges of tax fraud committed between January 2015 and June 2019.

That time Ms. Tabitha Karanja, who is the most well-known face of the breweries, accused the taxman of selective and unfair targeting, arguing that she has always followed the law and was shocked to be accused of tax evasion when the matters were still under a tax tribunal.

Tabitha and her husband were later charged with 10 counts of tax evasion.

According to the prosecution, the couple unlawfully made incorrect statements of their excise duty returns between February 2015 and January 2016, which in turn reduced their company’s tax liability by Sh1.8 billion.

They also faced a second count of making incorrect excise tax for February 2016 and January 2017, amounting to Sh3.1 billion.

On the third count, the prosecution alleged that between February 2017 and January 2018, the brewer’s excise duty books were incorrect to the tune of Sh3.6 billion.

Keroche’s Defence

A few days ago, Ms. Tabitha and her husband Joseph through lawyer James Orengo protested the delay in supplying the documents to kick-start their trial, arguing that he does not understand why the DPP arrested the couple if they were not ready with the case.

“Police arrested them with a lot of drama but are now slowing the case by not supplying the documents. This was supposed to be a day of pre-trial which would ensure the case proceeds not only expeditiously but also fairly but the DPP is delaying us,” said Orengo.

On the 23rd August, 2019, Keroche bosses (including the company) pleaded not guilty and were released on a cash bail totalling Ksh30 million in cash.

The case pre-trial which was set for 24th September 2019 hit a snag as DPP couldn’t comply with the court order of 2nd September, in which the prosecution was asked to provide documents and witnesses to support the case.

Scandal-ridden Family

In 2018, Keroche empire heiress Anerlisa Muigai, revealed that she had absconded in paying a Ksh.19 million she owed Mwanachi Credit from 2015.

The money which was borrowed for her boyfriend Ben Kangangi in order to enable him secure a government tender was taken without security.

It later led to a small tussle between the owner of Mwanachi Credit Dennis Mombo aand Anerlisa. Ben found himself between a rock and a hard place when he was forced to sign that he will pay the loan. He was also forced to return Ksh.5 million (he had only been given 7 million out of the 19 million that the Arnelisa took) to Arnelisa, and some cars.

It is not clear if the money was returned fully.

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