Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR
Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR

The fraud and investigations manager at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Yegan Mundie, who allegedly ran a new "rogue unit" for suspended tax commissioner Tom Moyane, resigned with immediate effect on Tuesday.

As the disciplinary inquiry into Moyane drags on, the clean-up at the tax agency continues to gather pace, with Mundie resigning after having been suspended for allegations of misconduct on June 21.

Mundie’s departure was an important step for SARS as it seeks to root out the rot that set in on Moyane’s watch.

Mundie is reported to have had links to shady figures such as Robert Huang, a Zuma family associate. He reportedly interfered in investigations into the R400m tax bill of businessman Mark Lifman.

Mundie ran a SARS unit that conducted internal investigations into allegations of fraud against staff.

However, it emerged that the unit was allegedly unfairly targeting SARS officials who were working on sensitive investigations themselves.

Mundie had not yet faced any charges but opted to resign through a letter to SARS handed over by his attorney, Michael Strauss, on Tuesday.

Strauss confirmed Mundie’s resignation to Business Day and added that there had not been any form of disciplinary hearing against his client.

Strauss also denied allegations brought against Mundie in the news media.

SARS had not responded to Business Day’s questions at the time of going to press.

According to Mundie’s letter of suspension, which Business Day has seen, he was suspended with full benefits on June 21 for a period of 30 days.

The letter said while Mundie had provided reasons why he should not be suspended, the revenue service had opted to suspend him anyway.

Serious transgressions

The letter said it did so because the transgressions he had committed were of a "serious nature" and needed to be investigated and some of the information required for the probe remained outstanding.

The letter said the revenue service was of the view that a failure to suspend him would "destabilise the work environment" and there may be "tampering with evidence" or "interference with the investigation".

It is unclear what exactly the investigation against Mundie was centred on.

In 2016, Business Day reported that Moyane had written to then finance minister Pravin Gordhan explaining his approval of a new unit at the tax agency, which resembled the now infamous "rogue unit".

The rogue unit narrative, which is now largely discredited, was used to purge SARS of senior, long-standing officials and also to target Gordhan, who is a former commissioner of the tax agency.

An internal memorandum, penned by Mundie at the time, provided detail of the work of the unit.

The memorandum was sent by Mundie to Hlengani Mathebula, the chief officer for enforcement at SARS.

It indicated that the unit required two vehicles, a "safe house" and a "safe cost centre" from which it should be funded to protect its members.

Ironically, these were all elements that led to the former high-risk investigation unit being described as "rogue".

Another memo at the time, also between the two, detailed a complaint against the SARS tactical customs investigation unit.

The memo concluded that audits and inspections of competitors of tobacco company British American Tobacco (BAT) and of Lifman were concluded unfairly "with malicious intent" by SARS officials.

Mundie had recommended that criminal cases should be opened and that new SARS auditors should be appointed to "re-audit" BAT’s competitors as well as Lifman.

Mathebula had approved Mundie’s recommendation.

marriann@businesslive.co.za