Seizures cripple fraud syndicate
Johannesburg - A Pakistani and South African-run syndicate that defrauded the SA Revenue Service (Sars) of about R77m has been "crippled" after the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) seized more than R20m of its assets.
"Sars was defrauded of approximately R77m in tax refunds by a syndicate comprising Pakistani nationals and South African citizens," the National Prosecuting Authority said.
"The AFU obtained 14 orders in the South Gauteng High Court in terms of the provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, authorising the seizure of property relating to fraud committed against the SA Revenue Service between September 2008 and March 2009."
The NPA said investigations had led to the arrest and prosecution of a number of individuals on charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption.
Three of the nine accused have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.
The alleged kingpins of the syndicate - identified as Aliraza Syed Naqvi, a Pakistani national, and Jabulani Freddy Sewela, a South African citizen - will appear in the Randburg Magistrate's Court on June 1 with the remaining accused.
The NPA said the stolen funds were laundered through a multitude of bank accounts operated and controlled by the syndicate.
The syndicate's "intricate money laundering web" was unravelled by Sars and the AFU.
The assets included houses in affluent suburbs, household contents and numerous luxury and other vehicles.
A house in Sandton deviously concealed in a trust by a deceased syndicate member was also seized.
About R500 000 paid from the proceeds of the crime into an attorney's trust account was surrendered to the police by an attorney for the accused.
"This money and all monies held in credit in the numerous bank accounts are all subject to seizure," the NPA said.
Investigations to identify further assets continue.