The multi-billion Chandaria business empire could cut down on its investments in the country and focus on working with “business-friendly nations’’ in Africa.
It has exclusively been established that Manu Chandaria, the business tycoon and philanthropist who retired from active management of the family business is furious with the government which is targeting companies related to Comcraft Group over alleged tax evasion.
We have established that several companies run by the group are a target for President William Ruto’s administration.
The President has insisted that every Kenyan must pay tax as he targets to elevate the treasury’s collection from Sh1.5 trillion to Sh3 trillion in the next financial year.
It is not clear how much the taxman is targeting the Chandaria group but insiders have indicated the possibility of massive disruptions if the government stands its ground.
While President Ruto has called for dialogue between KRA and revenue defaulters, events at treasury and pronouncements by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria on business monopoly in the country are a reflection of the Kenya Kwanza’s regime commitment to take on anyone with tax arrears.
The Chandaria business empire is just but among the few multi-billion business establishments that control key sectors of the economy.
The family is reportedly in fear that some of its establishment could run into ‘financial bankruptcy’ because of the tax row and are ready to listen to offers of similar investment opportunities elsewhere.
A source privy to the development has confirmed that KRA officers have been camping in the management offices of some of the companies owned by the family even as investigative officers continue digging for possible tax evasion in the rest of the establishments.
This comes at a time when the family is still nursing another terrible financial blow emanating from the courts.
This is after Manu Chandaria lost a multi-million case to another business magnet Raju Sanghani.
In a case that has been ongoing for several years, High Court Judge Justice Alfred Mabeya ruled in favour of Shivali Ltd, Naval Holdings, Kety Investments, and Saaf Holding, companies associated with Raju, in their lawsuit against Guardian Bank Limited and various firms associated with the Chandaria family. The companies associated with Sanghani are former shareholders of Guilders Bank, which was sold to Guardian Bank. They sued the Chandaria family’s firms, which are associated with Guardian Bank, claiming that they were owed money. Mabeya delivered the judgment virtually via a Microsoft Teams meeting on February 17, 2023. He ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and ordered the defendants to pay millions of shillings with accrued interest.
However, the defendants were dissatisfied with the ruling and immediately filed a notice of appeal. The case which was heard in the High Court’s Commercial and Tax Division has for years remained a nightmare to the Chandaria family.
The case has been closely watched by the business community, and the ruling will have far-reaching implications for the sector. Chandaria is the chairman of Comcraft Group of companies, a multi-billion empire that has a presence in over 40 countries. He also owns the Chandaria Foundation whose essence is to help citizens of African countries improve their lives through various initiatives.
But we have also established that he is not the only billionaire being targeted by the government machinery also spraying its tax onslaught on various companies among the edible oil manufacturers, including Salwa limited, Pwani oil, Bidco Africa, timber companies, cement manufacturers and many others.
The companies are among those on police radar.