The National Assembly Departmental Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives in the National Assembly has begun investigations into the conduct of two companies said to have been behind the importation of contaminated sugar into the country.
The committee chaired by Embakasi North MP James Gakuya last week held meetings with Vinepack Limited and Assets & Cargo, the two companies implicated in the investigation surrounding condemned sugar that posed a significant health risk to Kenyans.
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During the meeting, Peter Mwangi, the director of Vinepack Limited, attempted to shed light on the company’s involvement in the controversial sugar importation.
According to Mwangi, Vinepack Limited became aware of the business opportunity through an email from the Commissioner of Customs and Border Control, a department within the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The company then submitted an application, received approval, and paid the necessary taxes, including 16% VAT, 3.5% Import Declaration Fee, and 2% Railway Development Levy, amounting to over Sh4 million.
Vinepack Limited then awaited the release of the sugar from the port.
Mwangi informed the committee it took about a month-long wait in Mombasa as they sought approval to have the sugar released into ethanol.
During this period, a KRA employee allegedly informed him that the delay had been caused by a lawsuit filed against KRA by Galgamesh and Assets & Cargo, resulting to further delays in releasing the sugar.
Mwangi argued that the sugar was eventually released and transported to a warehouse in Thika, as Vinepack Industries’ facility was already at full capacity.
He claimed that he was present during the offloading of the sugar, and had witnessed the sealing of the warehouse by KRA officials.
However, KRA employees provided vague responses regarding when the seals would be broken until May 3rd, when Mwangi received a phone call instructing him to visit the warehouse.
During a session that temporarily turned emotional, Mwangi described to the lawmakers how he passed out when he and the KRA officials opened the warehouse only to find it empty.
He tearfully recalled how after regaining consciousness, he found himself handcuffed, was beaten, and detained in Mombasa for over 56 hours without food or access to restroom facilities.
Mwangi implored KRA to reveal the whereabouts of the missing sugar.
The legislators raised concerns about the lack of additional security measures at the premises and questioned why KRA, Vinepack Limited, and other relevant agencies had failed to ensure there was adequate security.