Tabitha Karanja, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Keroche Breweries is in the middle of a legal battle against the Kenyan government over allegations of tax evasion. She is being accused of evading $112.8 million in taxes. Reports say this accusation is not the first time the company has come under fire.
The ongoing case which started in 2018, has gained more momentum because details about the alleged tax evasion have been released. In the case, the company has vehemently denied the tax evasion allegations. It has also taken the matter to court as it fights back against the Kenyan government for using tax disputes as a tool for state capture.
Karanja has also described the tax dispute as the government’s attempt to bully her company into submission. She argues that the tax charged by the government are exorbitant. The Kenyan entrepreneur who noted that her company has fully complied with all tax laws and regulations maintained that she will fight this case to the end.
Who is Tabitha Karanja?
Tabitha Mukami Muigai Karanja is one of the wealthiest businesswomen in Kenya. With her husband, Joseph Karanja, She established Keroche Breweries, in 1997. At Keroche Breweries they started off by making fortified wine with the local market as their target. Reports say her products became high in the market because of the huge taxes Kenya’s government placed on locally-made wines.
From making wines, she switched to manufacturing ready-to-drink gin and vodka. She has continued to increase her company by expanding production. Keroche Breweries ranks as one of the largest producers of alcoholic beverages. In 2022, Karanja won the Nakuru Senatorial seat and currently serves as the Nakuru County Senator, in Kenya.
Karanja has firmly been a vocal advocate for the rights of small and medium-sized enterprises in Kenya. She has not ceased to register her stance that the unfair tax system stifles the growth of smaller businesses, and favours only larger and well-connected companies.
The import of Keroche’s case on Kenya’s business community
The aftermath of the ongoing case will test the government’s commitment to fair and transparent business practices. It will also examine the court’s ability to deliver fair justice in case of state capture. Keroche Breweries offers employment to over 2,000 people. It also largely contributes to the country’s economy through the creation of jobs and the payment of taxes.
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