Kenya arrests 75 tax officials on suspicion of corruption

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Seventy-five Kenyan tax agency staff were arrested on Friday on suspicion of abetting tax evasion and bribery, the latest effort by authorities in the East African country to fight corruption.

The staff have not been charged and are being questioned, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) said in a statement.

“Investigations into the rackets have been in progress for the last four months with covert assistance provided by national law enforcement agencies to help in trailing money and communication,” it said.

The staff, who work in the domestic tax department and customs and border control, are accused of helping to fraudulently clear cargo and alter tax returns to help people dodge tax payments, the KRA said.

It did not say how much revenue had been lost. The detentions come as the government is struggling to raise tax revenues to fund its budget.

Dozens of Kenyan government officials and business people have appeared in court since May 2018 on charges relating to the alleged theft of hundreds of millions of shillings from public coffers in a new drive to tackle widespread graft.

President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to stamp out graft when he was first elected in 2013, but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials. There have been few high profile convictions since he took office.

Reporting by John Ndiso; Editing by George Obulutsa and Frances Kerry