The unfolding edible oils scandal, which could result in the loss of billions of shillings due to the importation of 125,000 metric tonnes of edible oils, has prompted the Azimio coalition to demand the resignation of Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria. This call comes after documents emerged linking him to the scam.
According to documents obtained by Citizen TV, it was revealed that there was no legal provision allowing the Treasury Cabinet Secretary to waive duty, except in the case of emergency relief goods. However, the importation of the edible oils was carried out using Kenya Gazette Notice number Vol. CXXIV No. 250, which was incorrectly applied since the gazette notice was meant for the drought response initiative, not edible oils.
The reason behind the incorrect usage of the gazette notice by the tax authorities remains unclear.
Additional evidence has revealed that the Kenya National Trade Corporation engaged in single-sourcing practices by selecting specific companies to import the oil and then sell it to them, rather than importing directly from manufacturers in Malaysia or Indonesia.
In a statement issued in the evening, the Azimio coalition expressed criticism towards Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria. They accused him of resorting to insults as a means of diverting attention from his own mistakes, and emphasized the need for accountability by calling for resignations.
Furthermore, the Azimio coalition is urging President William Ruto to address the public and provide an explanation regarding his level of knowledge about the scandal, as well as his intended course of action against those implicated in the wrongdoing.
“Mr. William Ruto must address the country on what he knew about this scam when he knew it and what he plans to do about it.”
The statement strongly asserts that heads must roll and that someone needs to take responsibility for the scandal. The opposition is demanding Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to step forward and resign, emphasizing that it cannot be business as usual to defraud suffering citizens and then proceed to abuse those same citizens whose money has been stolen.
The Azimio coalition also called for transparency from the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC), the entity responsible for overseeing the procurement process. They urged the KNTC to clarify whether they were coerced into defrauding the Kenyan people.
Azimio la Umoja expressed deep disappointment, although not surprised, by what they deemed a grand scam orchestrated by the Kenya Kwanza administration. The secret duty-free importation of thousands of tons of cooking oil through the KNTC earlier this year was officially exposed.
It was shocking but not unexpected to Azimio that the financially and structurally struggling KNTC did not engage in competitive tendering or invite local manufacturers to participate in the planned importation. Instead, the institution willingly became complicit and facilitated the scam.
The statement reveals that among the companies awarded the local purchase order were Shehena Trading Commodity Limited, 100% owned by Invest Africa – FZCO, a company registered in a Dubai free zone. The CEO, Mr. Wilfred Saroni, has close associations with the Trade & Investment Cabinet Secretary. Another company involved was Multi Commerce FZC, a company registered in a Dubai free zone reportedly owned by a prominent businessman associated with a major new mall in Eastleigh.
According to customs entry documents in possession, the KNTC did not pay several taxes, resulting in a total tax loss of 42.5%. Similar to the situation with KEMSA during the Covid-19 procurement scandal, the KNTC is now burdened with overpriced stock that it cannot sell.
The taxpayers stand to lose Ksh.6 billion if the state corporation faces losses, undermining its objective of providing cheaper alternative products. However, politically connected importers are expected to profit significantly, with an estimated $41 million (Ksh.5.6 billion).
The statement concludes with a firm call to investigative agencies, particularly the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, to promptly take action and thoroughly investigate this scam.
“Individuals found to have enabled this scam must be surcharged and made to refund tax payers’ monies lost, and that should include Mr. Ruto,” says Azimio.