East Africa’s Oxygen 8 ICT Director embroiled in Ksh1bn tax evasion allegations

11 January 2019

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Brian Waluchio, a co-director of Oxygen 8 East Africa, an establishment embroiled in Ksh1 billion tax evasion probe has been barred from travelling outside the country.

According to Waluchio, both Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Immigration Department have barred him travelling outside Kenya despite his passport being returned to him on orders of a magistrate’s court to allow him engage in business outside country.

KRA Probing Oxygen 8 East Africa

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) are probing Oxygen 8 East Africa, a digital firm with UK roots, following alleged formation of a company disguising itself as the taxman and hence causing the Authority a loss of more than Ksh1 billion.

The taxman, in documents available at Makadara Law Courts notes that its investigators unearthed a fraudulent scheme through which staff in Oxygen 8 East Africa’s local subsidiary were diverting tax payments to Keycorp Real Advisory (KRA), an establishment disguising itself to the taxman. Keycorp Real Advisory’s initials, KRA, were made similar to that of the taxman

The local subsidiary of Oxygen 8 East Africa and Waluchio were on 23rd November 2018 charged in court for defaulting to pay tax amounting to Sh522 million.

Travel for Business

Waluchio was subsequently ordered to deposit his passport in court as part of the bail terms. However, the Makadara Magistrate’s court allowed him to get his passport and travel for business.

“Unless the court…compels the respondents to lift the travel ban, the petitioner will be grounded economically, thereby being incapable of servicing his mortgage facility, fending for his family and even paying for taxes that the first respondent is mandated to collect.”

His bid to travel were however recently thwarted upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a situation that has since prompted him to file an application at the High Court seeking to be allowed to travel abroad.

In the High Court Filings of which he has listed has listed KRA and the Director of Immigration services as respondent, Waluchio states: “Unless the court…compels the respondents to lift the travel ban, the petitioner will be grounded economically, thereby being incapable of servicing his mortgage facility, fending for his family and even paying for taxes that the first respondent is mandated to collect.”

In his submission, Waluchio accuses KRA and the Director of Immigration of discriminating against him by allowing his co-director, Mr Shane Leahy to travel in and out of the country and further claims that KRA and the director of immigration allowed his co-director to work in Kenya without a valid work permit.

Details of the alleged tax fraud have been laid bare in a suit the proprietor of the dummy company has filed after they were arrested, charged and their bank accounts frozen.

Leahy, CEO of Oxygen 8 Group, a digital company that deals in text message (SMS) value-added services and mobile financial services has opted to co-operate with the taxman. Hia preliminaryreport to KRA alludes that Waluchio is no longer an employee of Oxygen 8 East Africa, but is a 20percent shareholder of the entity.

Source: CIO East Africa