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Capture fears grow at SARS

Publish date: 10 August 2017
Issue Number: 128
Diary: Legalbrief Forensic
Category: State capture

Fears that SARS had fallen prey to state capture were heightened after its chief financial officer of nearly three years abruptly resigned. Business Day reports that Matsobane Matlwa, a long-time SARS insider, was appointed CFO in December 2014. He was instrumental in establishing the Large Business Centre, which he ran for five years from 2004. The unit monitored high-earning taxpayers such as Dave King as well as corporate taxpayers. The report says SARS' credibility has been called into question since Tom Moyane – who is close to President Jacob Zuma – was appointed three years ago. Highly trained investigators who had exposed syndicates and collected billions in unpaid value-added tax and other taxes left the system after Moyane undertook a restructuring drive that pitted him against former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. He disbanded the national projects team, which conducted in-depth investigations, claiming there was an undercover rogue unit. The report says at the time of publication, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had not been briefed on the resignation of Matlwa and could not comment, his spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said. Luther Lebelo, group executive for employee relations at SARS, said Matlwa's resignation was ‘not a shock’ and that Moyane had already instructed human resources to commence a recruitment process.

Full Business Day report

Moyane has, meanwhile, denied allegations that he met with any members of the Gupta family in his personal and private capacity. Polity reports that SARS has confirmed that Moyane was in Dubai two years ago on 23 December, before making his way to Portugal to spend Christmas there. The statement claims he also made his way back to Dubai on 29 December, before his return to SA on 8 January last year. The report says The Times previously reported that travel records obtained through the #GuptaLeaks revealed that the tax commissioner stayed in Dubai during 23 and 29 December as well as another five times between June 2015 and December 2016. The Gupta family has property in the United Arab Emirates city. The trip, according to The Times, was coincidentally at the same time that the Gupta brothers, Rajesh, Atul and Ajay, as well as Duduzane Zuma and sons of Free State Premier Ace Magashule – Gift and Thato Magashule – were in the city. The report says SARS has called on anyone with information to provide it to SARS, and any other organ of state.

Full Polity report

‘Commissioner Moyane categorically states that he has never met any member of the Gupta family in either his private or professional capacity‚’ SARS said‚ adding that the attempt to link the commissioner and SARS as an institution with the Gupta family or their associates was ‘malicious and reckless in the extreme’. Business Day reports that SARS is under pressure to explain the payment of a R70m VAT refund to Oakbay in June this year‚ with reports alleging that Moyane personally intervened to get the payment processed. SARS has declined to comment on these reports except to say the payment was not irregular.

Full Business Day report