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SARS fines Durban businessman R500,000 after copper bust

Oct 31 2019 17:15
Sibongile Khumalo

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) fined a Durban-based business owner R500,000 for attempting to export unrefined copper declared as scrap metal,  the tax agency said on Thursday.

Angelo Solimene, owner of Group Wreck, a scrap metal recycler, had pleaded guilty to charges of illegal exportation, after authorities at the Durban Harbour intercepted a consignment which contained unrefined copper in July.

The goods had been declared as scrap metal. The export of copper scrap is not allowed without a permit. According to SARS, the scrap metal industry contributes an estimated R15bn annually to the GDP.

Early this year, SARS established a working group aimed at addressing the smuggling, under-valuation and fraud in the clothing, textile and footwear, scrap metal and gold metal industry.

“In light of these engagements and collaboration, various joint operational interventions are currently taking place targeting these industries. As a result, the detection of mis-declaration and under-declaration of weights has been identified in the scrap metal industry,” SARS said in a statement.

In August year, two businessmen in Port Elizabeth pleaded guilty to 36 charges relating to the export of scrap metal and also fined R500,000.The charge stemmed from failing to follow correct export regulations after they declared the contents of 36 containers at Coega port as “sheet piling” and not “scrap metal”.

Fighting illicit economy which includes illicit cigarette trade is a critical part of SARS and the activity contributes to slippages in revenue collection.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's Medium Term Policy statement revealed that Treasury expected to collect R1.37trn this year, about R52.5bn less than its projection in the February Budget. The figure follows a shortfall in 2018 of R57bn.

The National Treasury also stated that the tax agency was allocated an additional R1bn for the next two years to "bolster efforts to combat corruption and improve revenue collection".

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