Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Suspended SARS commissioner Tom Moyane. Picture: MOELETSI MABE
Suspended SARS commissioner Tom Moyane. Picture: MOELETSI MABE

The disciplinary process against suspended SA Revenue Services commissioner Tom Moyane is set to get underway soon, after settlement talks failed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended Moyane last month, citing his handling of the allegations against former second in charge Jonas Makwakwa, as well as his handling of value added tax refunds to the Guptas.

In his letter suspending Moyane, Ramaphosa alluded a "deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised."

Business Day understands that prior to his ouster, Moyane had turned down two settlement offers and replied to a third with conditions of his own, which were subsequently rejected by the president.

It is understood that Moyane’s conditions had included that Ramaphosa hold a media briefing, to which he (Moyane) would be invited, and announce their amicable parting of ways. Moyane also wanted Ramaphosa to publicly acknowledge that under him, SARS had surpassed the R1-trillion "psychological barrier" for three consecutive years and that he ran the institution with "leadership and integrity".

Presidency spokeswoman Khusela Diko in response to questions from the Business Day said the Presidency will not comment on the content of its engagements with Moyane since his suspension.

"We can, however, confirm that engagements have taken place and we have been unable to reach a mutually acceptable solution. The disciplinary process will commence shortly," she said.

It is understood that the National Treasury was instructed to formulate the disciplinary charges. However, it referred Business Day’s questions to the presidency.

Disciplinary action against a SARS commissioner is unprecedented in post-apartheid SA.

Moyane’s predecessor Oupa Magashula resigned after facing allegations of alleged undue influence and a fact-finding committee into his conduct. This followed allegations in the media at the time.

It is understood that Moyane rejected an offer of a six-month payout, then a payout of nine months. He submitted counter conditions to a final offer of a 12-month payout — which was rejected by Ramaphosa, according to sources.

Moyane’s legal representatives could not be reached for comment.

Moyane’s suspension came after it emerged that a debt collector appointed by SARS, New Integrated Credit Solutions, was among the companies listed in a Financial Intelligence Report as having channelled funds into Makwakwa’s bank account.

Makwakwa resigned from SARS after the furore and when he was on the cusp of being suspended for a second time.

Makwakwa’s first suspension in 2016 was after the FIC report identified some R1.2m in suspicious and unusual transactions into his bank account and that of his partner, Kelly-Anne Elskie, who was also a SARS employee.

Following a year-long suspension, Makwakwa was reinstated. Moyane had announced that he was cleared of all charges against him.

At the same time, the legal firm tasked with conducting the probe into the transactions, Hogan Lovells, admitted that it had not in fact looked into the transactions as they fell to the Hawks and SARS to conclude on.

Makwakwa was the chief officer for business and individual taxes — and as such occupied a strategic position at the tax agency heading up a division in which the largest taxpayers fell.

Moyane’s suspension also followed further details were revealed over a VAT refund paid to the controversial Gupta family.