Kenyan Tea Rocks Top Iranian Govt Circles in Ksh542B Graft Case

A farmer at a tea plantation in Kericho
A farmer at a tea plantation in Kericho

A major Ksh542 billion corruption scandal involving Kenyan tea has rocked top Iranian government circles shaking the foreign government to its very core as President Ebrahim Raisi moves to distance his administration from the scandal which has gripped the nation.

Iran International, a major news outlet in the Gulf country reports that one tea firm is at the centre of the entire scandal involving senior current and former government officials including ministers of agriculture, industry as well as the governors of the Central Bank of Iran and the chiefs of Iranian Customs Administration.

Reports indicate that until 2020, the annual budget allocated for importing tea was around Ksh 37 Billion($300 million), but the budget tripled to approximately Ksh 98 Billion ($900) million without any proper justification.

The company in question, handling most of Iran's tea imports, received Ksh 368 Billion ($3.37) billion in foreign currency from the government on a preferential exchange rate for tea and machinery imports from 2019 to 2022.  

One of the major sticking points in the corruption scandal is that the company allegedly sold Ksh Ksh 152 Billion ($1.4) billion of the currency on the free market at a higher rate. 

Specially designed lorries to transport green leaf tea.
Specially designed lorries to transport green leaf tea.
Nyambya Tea Company

“The company also sold low-grade tea imported from Kenya as high-grade tea originating from India, with a Ksh 1,310 (($12) difference per kilogram. The company has been also involved in what has been described as fraud by re-importing cheaper Iranian tea and pocketing the difference in foreign currency,” reads the report.

As the plot thickens, Iran’s Chief Justice Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje was quoted by Iranian media outlets stating that the government has already dismissed 60 senior officials connected to the case. 

However, Iranian government spokesperson Ali Bahadori Jahromi disputed this position stating that the firings were not only tied to the corruption case but related to various issues. 

He however stated that several low-level and mid-ranking officials have been arrested in connection with the case. 

By the time of publishing this article, no reports about the details of these arrests and dismissals had been shared with the media.

The government has however assured Iranians that the dismissal does not mean that investigations are over. The government is set to probe more officials even as Iranian media outlets continue to report that President Raisi sees the case as a national embarrassment and wants the case swept under the carpet.

Responding to the incident former editor of the conservative Kayhan daily, an Iranian news outlet, Mehdi Nasiri claimed that such high level corruption cannot be masterminded without the involvement of senior government officials.

The scandal has since then enraged Iranians who are currently reeling from the effects of an economic downturn that has culminated into a shortage of medicines, food items, and a 50 per cent inflation rate.

Tea farms Ikweta Safari Camp
Tea farms Ikweta Safari Camp


  • . . .