SARS investigators come under scrutiny
Key investigators working on cases linked to controversial high-profile taxpayers are set to come under scrutiny at retired judge Robert Nugent’s commission of inquiry into the SA Revenue Service (SARS).
The Nugent inquiry starts on Tuesday with a submission from SARS executive Randall Carolissen, who defended the tax agency after its fall in revenue collection in 2017.
The commission is aimed at getting to the bottom of the governance issues at SARS under suspended commissioner Tom Moyane. These issues have been partly blamed for the R48bn shortfall in revenue collection.
During its first round of public hearings at the end of June, the inquiry heard how a far-reaching restructuring at SARS eroded its capacity in a variety of areas including enforcement.
Pieter Engelbrecht, a SARS investigator who was key to the tax agency’s investigation team against businessmen Dave King, Robert Huang, Mark Lifman and Gary van der Merwe, is set to make a submission to the inquiry on Wednesday.
The inquiry has a strict policy to keep all taxpayer infor-mation confidential.
The inquiry will also hear evidence from the SARS executive for tax and customs compliance risk, Thabelo Malovhele. The third witness to give evidence next week will be Fareed Khan, an executive for enforcement audits.
Meanwhile, further delays are expected in the disciplinary inquiry of Moyane after President Cyril Ramaphosa rejected Moyane’s demand to halt either the disciplinary inquiry against him or the Nugent commission.
Ramaphosa wrote to Moyane’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, on Friday, informing him of his decision to continue with both processes, after the suspended SARS boss objected to them being held simultaneously.
"The president is of the view that both processes are fair in terms of the law and that there is no prejudice and unfairness to your client occasioned by the processes proceeding contemporaneously," said the letter from the presidency to Moyane’s lawyer.
Monday was the deadline set by disciplinary inquiry chair Azhar Bham for Moyane to file an affidavit responding to the charges set out against him in an affidavit by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
Mabuza wrote to Bham on Monday to indicate that he needed time to consult Moyane after Ramaphosa informed him of his decision on Friday. Mabuza said he would consult Moyane over whether to challenge Ramaphosa, Bham, Nugent or all three in court over the decision.
He has written to Nugent — who had invited Moyane to make submissions to the inquiry this week — to indicate that he was consulting with Moyane on the way forward.