Family at the core of Kenya’s multi-billion sugar import puzzle, details

Recent revelations on ongoing sale of contraband sugar in Kenya have caused considerable ripples in the sector.

The fight against counterfeit products kicked off after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision on May 10 appointed former Rift Valley regional coordinator Wanyama Musiambo to lead multi-agency efforts aimed at ridding the country of fake goods. This decision was made during a round-table meeting at State House Nairobi.

On Tuesday, June 19, Majority Leader Aden Duale “blew the whistle” over the scandalous sale of contaminated sugar in the market after prominent politicians were put on the spot over imported cheap sugar said to be laced with harmful chemicals.

At least 1,365 bags of contraband sugar seized in Ruiru, Kiambu County recently shows it was laced with toxic metals; copper and mercury that unsuspecting consumers may have been exposed to with dire health implications.

Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr Fred Matiang’i declared war on illicit goods, and to stress the seriousness of the operation, issued a stern warning to senior public officials, politicians, and businessmen involved in the business, who he said were trying to intimidate officers involved in the crackdown.

Duale linked Rai family owned West Kenya Sugar Company to the contaminated sugar business saying; “one company imported 185,000 metric tonnes. That company used four different companies. West Kenya Sugar Company imported 34,600 metric tonnes. The same importer used Sukari Industries and imported 34,000 metric tonnes duty-free.”

He added that “the same company used a company called Menengai refineries and imported 40,000 metric tonnes and another called Amnei was used to import 74,000 metric tonnes.”

West Kenya is a company under the Rai Group Ltd which has interests in several sectors in the Kenyan market. The company is owned by Rai family. Jaswant Rai chairs Rai Group Ltd and has one of his sons, Tejreev Rai as the head at West Kenya.

Jaswant S. Rai (right) and Tejveer Rai during a past press conference. /SDE

We understand that the company which has its base in the defunct Western province imported 34 million kilogrammes of sugar in 2017. In total, the family took advantage of the duty-free window opened by the government to bring in an estimated 187 million kilogrammes of Sugar through its affiliate businesses.

Sukari Industries is run by the Rai Group Ltd.

The Rai Group runs RaiPly, makers of chipboards, ceilings, block boards, parquet and wooden tiles and polythene bags for sugar companies. Raiply has spread its plywood wings to Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi – where it’s the biggest wood processor.

Rai Group is also Uganda’s second largest miller through Kinyara Sugar Works, besides having interests in edible oils, fats and soaps (Menengai Oil Refineries)sawmilling (Timsales), wheat farming, horticulture and real estate (Tulip Properties).

The Rai family members include the patriarch Tarlochan Singh Rai, Sarjit Kaur Rai (Tarlochan’s wife), sons; Jaswant Rai, Jasbir Rai, Tajveer Rai and Onkar Rai (Managing Director-Menengai Oil Refineries)

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