Farmers from Meru County descended on Mastermind Tobacco midday today demanding their dues be paid.
The tobacco farmers are said to have been accompanied by auctioneers who were ready to auction the firm’s assets to recover money to pay the farmers.
“Tobacco farmers who are owed millions have sent auctioneers at Mastermind Tobacco Kenya to sell company assets,” a source told cnyakundi.com
Since the death of the company’s founder Wilfred Murungi, Mastermind has faced insurmountable hardships.
Drivers at the company are also on a go slow over 3 month’s salary arrears.
In 2015, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) slapped the firm with a Sh1.9 billion tax bill.
It took the help of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to stop KRA from freezing the firm’s accounts.
The tussle with KRA never went away, and at the time of Murungi’s death, KRA were still on his neck. They had repeated the request for tax payment in 2018.
In 2018, Tobacco farmers in Kehancha, Kuria West sub-county took to the streets against Mastermind Tobacco accusing it of failing to pay their arrears.
The auctioning today was averted by some form of payment according to our source.
“Am told they were given a cheque. The farmers who came with auctioneers are from Meru tobacco growing regions. Western and Nyanza farmers are owed millions in unpaid deliveries but they are yet to go legal route”, the source stated.
Some of the firm’s woes also came from its main competitor, British American Tobacco (BAT) which bribed Kenyan authorities, KRA and some legislators to spy on and sabotage its operations.
Recently, however, United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said they lacked sufficient evidence during this probe. Yap, even ICC lacked evidence because Kenyan authorities refused to cooperate.
At the height of the above-mentioned problems, there were talks of a possible buyout by global cigarette giant Philip Morris International.
A section of Kenyans tie Mastermind’s woes to a system within the government that seeks to take over successful run locally founded businesses.
Though they avetered today’s auction, the storm is just building up.
The owner of Mastermind Tobacco (Mr. Murungi) was fought by KRA in conjunction with BAT, to death. It is possible that Tabitha Karanja of Keroche might suffer a similar fate. Before we condemn her, let the DCI and DPP release information about this case for public scrutiny.
— Maina Kiromo (@mpkiromo) August 21, 2019
Mastermind Tobacco Kenya is Kenya's best example of how GoK has always frustrated local entrepreneurs in favour of foreigners and then unaskia ati Uhuru has mourned Wilfred Murungi….. Upus kabisa!!
— mmnjug™ (@mmnjug) June 9, 2019
Keringet was doing Well until it was bought and pushed out of the market by Coca-Cola. Molo Milk was giving Brookside sleepless nights, it was bought off and Buzeki walked away smiling. It's all business until the proprietors of a competition like Keroche refuses to sell.
— Lord Abraham Mutai (@ItsMutai) August 22, 2019
Tax fraud is a serious crime but given how our tax regime is set up, criminalizing the likes of:
1. Mastermind Tobacco
2. WoW & African spirits
3. Betting firms
4. Keroche industry amongst others doesn't resolve the matter, it worsens it & complicates the business environment
— SokoAnalyst (@SokoAnalyst) August 21, 2019
Just the way COCA-COLA finished SOFTA and Peter Kuguru had to close his multi billion business empire, I see the hands of EABL trying to give it another shot at KEROCHE under the guise of Kshs 14.2B tax evasion… I HAVE BEEN IN THE CORPORATE WORLD & I KNOW HOW THIS SHIT WORKS!!
— MUHAMMAD ONYANGO® (@Moha001_Onyango) August 22, 2019
"Someone should do a feature on kenya frustrating home grown companies ,and laying red carpets for foreign companies doing the exact same thing; Mastermind tobacco,now keroche" https://t.co/afsDzrCtFm pic.twitter.com/HslU7rwlhs
— Oaksupreme (@Franje__) March 11, 2020
Would you like to get published on this Popular Blog? You can now email Cyprian Nyakundi any breaking news, Exposes, story ideas, human interest articles or interesting videos on: [email protected] Videos and pictures can be sent to +254 710 280 973 on WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram.