Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR
Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR

Sars’ head of legal, Refiloe Mokoena, who was allegedly involved in granting the controversial Gupta family a reported R420m VAT refund, has been fired. 

Sars said on Friday that a disciplinary hearing found Mokoena guilty of serious misconduct. She was dismissed with immediate effect. 

Mokoena was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing in October 2018. In August of that year it was reported that former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane signed off on the Gupta VAT refunds, with legal advice from Mokoena. 

Daily Maverick, at the time, reported that Sars had paid more than R420m in VAT and personal income-tax refunds claimed by Gupta companies in 17 months between 2016 and April 2018.

The payments were put into a third-party account, in contravention of the VAT Act, which was allegedly sanctioned by Mokoena, who provided legal advice on the matter and said she did not believe Sars needed an outside legal opinion.

Sars said on Friday that commissioner Edward Kieswetter is conducting a review of the leaders at the tax agency as part of his commitment to restore integrity and trust in the institution.

Sars suspended three executives earlier this year, pending disciplinary hearings. This was in line with recommendations by retired judge Robert Nugent, who conducted an inquiry into the revenue service. 

Teboho Mokoena, chief officer of human capital and development; Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane, head of IT; Hlengani Mathebula, chief officer for governance, international relations, strategy and communication; and Luther Lebelo, who headed employment relations, have all since received payouts and left Sars before their disciplinary hearings were finalised. 

quintalg@businesslive.co.za