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Zuku founder suffers blow in Sh3bn tax row

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Richard Bell
Embattled businessman Richard Bell. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Embattled businessman Richard Bell has suffered yet another blow in a Sh3.4 billion tax evasion suit pitting him against the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) after the High Court declined to stop rival shareholders from participating in the case pending appeal against their enjoinment.

Justice John Mativo ruled that Mr Bell’s fear that the shareholders might bring adverse evidence restrained by court in a separate suit is not a ground to warrant their suspension pending appeal.

The High Court in February allowed Wananchi Nominees Limited, International Consulting Limited (formerly known as ISP Kenya Limited) and East Coast Telecoms Limited to be enjoined in the suit to help the taxman prove his case against Mr Bell.

Mr Bell, a co-founder of Internet and Pay-TV service provider Zuku, filed a fresh application seeking to stop his rival shareholders from participating in the suit in which he is challenging KRA’s move to recognise him as a tax representative of Wananchi Group Holdings Ltd, Wananchi Programming Ltd and Wananchi Satellite Limited.

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“The applicant has not demonstrated sufficient grounds to warrant the Court to grant the stay sought.

“In particular, it has not been demonstrated that the applicant has an arguable appeal,” observed Justice Mativo.

The judge noted that Mr Bell has not shown he would suffer substantial loss if they participate and the appeal challenging their participation succeeds.

Mr Bell had argued that since High Court had expunged part of the affidavit filed by rival shareholders, there was no enough grounds to allow them to participate in the case.

But Joe Mucheru, on behalf of the rival shareholders, rejected the assertion, noting that they had demonstrated they have information vital to the case.

The three applicants told the court they had information that the KRA did not have with regard to Mr Bell’s responsibility as the representative of offshore companies that are subject to the suit, a position that makes him directly answerable on the suspected tax avoidance by the said companies.

Mr Bell moved to court seeking to reverse the taxman’s decision requiring him to take responsibility for a Sh3.4 billion tax fraud case against the offshore companies.

The KRA wants Mr Bell held responsible for taxation of Wananchi Satellite and Wananchi Programming, both based in Mauritius, but whose operations the taxman claims are in Nairobi.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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