The Kenya Revenue Authority has been ordered by a court to compensate a former employee Munir Masoud for being wrongfully fired before the decision was reversed and he was retired in the public interest for Sh15 million.
The Taxman was ordered by the Employment and Labour Relations Court to pay Munir Masoud, who was retired by the court more than 20 years ago, the money by October 1 or interest will begin to accrue until he is fully compensated.
According to the court, the KRA had ulterior motivations in prosecuting Masoud and intended to settle scores by using him as a scapegoat to hide the wrongdoing of others.
Masoud was fired in relation to the disappearance of bond securities for sugar that were being transported to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire.
Officials who failed to seize the sugar and permitted its sale at the Mombasa local market were never held accountable.
Masoud’s argument that a government agency like the KRA shouldn’t participate in facilitating, aiding, and abetting corruption was accepted by Justice Byram Ongaya.
“The court further reckons that the war on corruption shall not only be won by punishing perpetrators but also by protecting and judiciously rewarding the anti-corruption soldiers,” said Justice Ongaya.
He added that Masoud’s career both inside and outside the organisation had been wrecked by the taxman.
According to Justice Ongaya’s decision, Masoud had proven that his firing was unjust and without cause because he had been singled out for doing his job in accordance with the law and his legal authority as a KRA employee.
“And by that reason he was victimised and punished in exclusion of other officers he has established appear to have failed in their responsibilities and duty,” Justice Ongaya said.
Justice Ongaya also determined that Masoud had been subjected to discriminatory injustice and abuse.
“The court has considered the claimant’s long service and his resolution to otherwise be an honest public officer keen to act in the best respondent’s interests. He lost his employment in the most unfair and oppressive manner,” said Justice Ongaya.
Justice Ongaya continued by saying that in the event of victimization for their moral performance in defending the public interest, public servants who act in line with the values and principles of public service, integrity, and honesty will obtain protection and exoneration by the courts.
As no punitive damages were requested, he said that the award was made to compensate Mr. Masoud for the pain he had endured as a result of unlawful discrimination and treatment, not to punish the taxman.
According to testimony given in court, on January 8, 1998, a shipment of 160,000 bags of Brazilian white refined sugar headed for Zaire from the port of Mombasa was switched to the Kenyan market without the proper taxes being paid.
A customs-controlled warehouse had about 120,000 bags of the sugar removed from it, and 40,000 of those bags were discovered and seized at a warehouse owned by an MP in Mombasa.
Before Masoud was abruptly fired over misbehavior claims, the diversion was made with the full knowledge, facilitation, connivance, and cooperation of KRA senior managers.
Masoud claimed that his dismissal was unjustified and in violation of the KRA’s code of conduct and natural justice principles.
He contended that the KRA’s decision was unjustified and that his retirement in the public interest was made in bad faith in order to annoy him.
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