Wanted businesswoman Mary Wambui Mungai, who is at the centre of a Sh2.2 billion tax evasion case Wednesday night escaped a police dragnet at Weston Hotel, Nairobi where she has been residing.
There was drama at the hotel when police raided there in search of the woman and her co-accused only to realize she had left minutes earlier leaving their personal belongings.
A host of dignitaries from Garissa were at the same facility for a fundraiser. Deputy President William Ruto was among those present.
It is not clear if the DP was informed about the drama as police searched for the two on strength of a warrant they had.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) said in a statement Wambui, alongside Purity Njoki Mungai, who are both directors of Purma Holdings Limited, escaped from their hotel rooms a few minutes before the police and KRA officers arrived to arrest them.
“Upon searching the hotel premises, KRA officers and the police found personal belongings of the two including cash, bank cards and car keys, a clear indication that the two were residing at the hotel,” KRA said in the statement.
It is claimed they used a connecting door from their room on the third floor to escape to the next room making it difficult for the officers to pursue them further. Police cordoned off the hotel as a search on the two is intensified in vain.
The guests who had been at the hotel drove out.
A warrant of arrest was issued on the two on December 8, 2021 after the directors failed to appear in Anti-Corruption Court before Chief Magistrate, Felix Mutinda Kombo to answer eight counts of knowingly and unlawfully omitting taxes due in the income tax returns submitted to the Commissioner for Domestic Taxes for the period between 2014-2016.
The court was informed that the two failed to honor summons to appear before KRA on December 3, 2021 to inform them of the charges against them and instead sent their accountant.
Through their lawyer Syvanus Osoro, the Wambui informed the court that she was admitted to hospital. However, no medical records or disclosure of illness or hospitalization have so far been made.
The court agreed with the prosecution that the accused were buying time instead of confronting the charges which the court noted are of great public interest and grave.The case will be mentioned on December 14, 2021 or the earliest the accused will be arrested.
The taxman is pursuing Ms Mungai over alleged unpaid taxes for the billions of shillings earned from government tenders for supplying boots, uniforms and cereals to the military, among other State departments.
The taxman says Mungai and her two daughters earned billions of shillings between 2014 and 2019 through their company Purma Holdings Ltd.
The KRA says it has been conducting investigations on tax obligations by the company for the past two years.
They are to be charged with at least seven charges.In the first charge, they are accused of omitting from returns an amount which should have been included contrary to section 97(a) as read with section 104(3) of the Tax Procedures Act No. 29 of 2015.
They are also to be charged with failure to submit a tax return by the due date contrary to section 94(1) as read with section 104(1) of the Tax Procedures Act No. 29 of 2015 and failure to pay tax by the due date contrary.
If found guilty for the offence of omission, the penalty is a fine not exceeding Sh10 million or double the tax evaded whichever is higher or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or both.
For the offences of submit a tax return and failure to pay tax, the penalty is a fine not exceeding Sh1 million and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.