Keroche Breweries CEO Tabitha Keroche has denied owning the Naivasha-based brewery.
In her response to a suit seeking to bar her from vying for the Nakuru senator seat, Tabitha said she is nothing more than an employee of the company.
“I am employed by Keroche Breweries Limited as a Director and CEO but I am not the owner of the company as alleged by the petitioner.”
In the petition, Daniel Mahiri, an aspiring politician, wants the court to find Tabitha unsuitable to hold public office for violating Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.
Tabitha is eyeing the Nakuru senatorial seat on a UDA ticket in the August 9 General Election.
But Mahiri, in his petition filed through lawyer Jinaro Kimutai, wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission not to clear her to vie for the seat on grounds that she’s a tax defaulter.
He argues that on July 23, 2021, Tabitha admitted to owing the Kenya Revenue Authority Sh272,211,842 comprising Sh134,447,847 in principal taxes.
He says she agreed to pay the principal tax arrears in nine equal monthly instalments but failed to honour the payment plan after the parties reached the deal through the alternative dispute resolution process.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the 1st respondent is engaging in games to further continue avoiding tax obligations.”
Mahiri further argues that Tabitha faces another ongoing criminal case filed in 2019 for nonpayment of over Sh14.4 million in taxes.
He says Tabitha cannot be deemed to have not committed a crime by virtue of admitting to defaulting on her tax obligation.
By admitting to non-remittance of taxes, he adds, Tabitha is not a suspect but a fully admitted tax evader.
“Acceptance of crime doesn’t take away the fact that a crime was committed.
“On the contrary, it proves beyond reasonable doubt that the crime was committed and negates any legal basis for the person to be deemed innocent of the crime committed,” Mahiri said.
He holds that if the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission clears her to vie, it will empower her to use her leadership status to continue evading tax should she be elected into office in August.
But in her replying affidavit, Tabitha says Mahiri is a sore loser who is not motivated by ethics or the ideals demonstrated in his petition.
Tabitha participated in the UDA primaries on April 14, 2022, and emerged the winner with 98,439 votes while Mahiri came second with 12,240 votes.
“His motivation is selfish and aimed at eliminating competition for personal gain. He is clearly not acting on behalf of the residents of Nakuru or the Kenyan republic,” she said.
Tabitha admitted that she’s embroiled in a tax tussle with the taxman but the matter is of a legal nature and is currently pending in court.
She said the matter is not unique to Keroche Breweries as so many other businesses are facing similar cases.
Tabitha said contestations of such nature cannot be elevated into an integrity issue on whose basis a taxpayer can be barred from running for public office.
In further distancing herself from ownership of the troubled firm, Tabitha said, “I’m a stranger to the admissions of tax liability alleged by the petitioner but I am aware that there are negotiations between the business and the Kenya Revenue Authority to resolve pending tax disputes”.
“In any event, I do not understand what the tax relations of Keroche Breweries Limited have to do with me as a private person distinct from the company,” she added and urged the court to dismiss the petition.