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Carrim: Committee will not 'wilt in its oversight' over SARS

Dec 15 2017 17:27
Jan Gerber

Cape Town – The Standing Committee on Finance will not "wilt in its necessary oversight role" of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), it's chairperson Yunus Carrim said on Thursday.

Carrim reacted after DA MP Alf Lees released a letter, addressed to the committee by SARS, to the media regarding the reinstatement of Jonas Makwakwa as SARS’ chief officer business and individual taxes.

Last week the committee discussed the reinstatement of Makwakwa despite him being investigated by SARS and the Hawks. This was following a report by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) that he allegedly made "unusual and suspicious" deposits into a number of bank accounts between 2010 and 2016.

During last week's committee meeting, Lees referred to the FIC report, which has been distributed to the committee by its legal adviser. SARS commissioner Tom Moyane took umbrage, claiming that the document is confidential. 

After some toing and froing among the MPs, the committee's legal adviser said he sent it to the MPs after he found it on the Daily Maverick's website. He intended it to be for the information of the MPs only and not for them to base any recommendations on. Carrim ruled accordingly.

Last Friday Moyane wrote a letter to Carrim.

"We have sought legal guidance and have been advised that the Daily Maverick website and/or those who distributed the report, may have violated the FIC Act," Moyane wrote.

He said he would report the matter to the FIC director.

On Thursday Lees released a press statement, including Moyane's letter and a letter Lees addressed to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, asking him to ensure the investigation into Makwakwa is expedited. 

"The claim in Mr Moyane’s letter that the FIC report in my possession was somehow illegal is a clear attempt to intimidate and stop me from holding SARS to account," said Lees.

"This tactic by Moyane is not going to work and only reinforces my resolve to exercise my oversight function without fear or favour."

Later on Thursday, Carrim said in a statement that he noted with concern the release of Moyane's letter. 

Carrim said while the correspondence obviously cannot be confidential in the circumstances, it was not necessary for the DA to release it and use it as a basis for a rather skewed media statement. 

“Interestingly, Mr Lees released Commissioner Moyane’s letter but not my reply to him on behalf of the Committee, which does address the issues and clearly suggests that the Committee will not wilt in its necessary oversight role,” said Carrim. 

Upon enquiring, Lees insisted to Carrim that he released the DA statement because he was personally being maligned by the commissioner, reads the statement.

Carrim has raised a concern with Lees’s assertion that the DA will continue to hold SARS to account "as if the African National Congress (ANC) is not doing that". 

“Now, on behalf of the Committee, I have no choice but to publish the SARS letter as well as my reply in order to get a fair and accurate picture,” said Carrim.  

In his response to Moyane, Carrim pointed out that the report is in the public domain.

"I cannot see what was wrong with Adv Jenkins [the committee's legal adviser] sending it out. After all, members of the committee could have easily accessed the report on The Daily Maverick website," wrote Carrim.

At last week's meeting it emerged that Moyane refused to furnish the committee with a report by audit firm PwC on the Makwakwa matter. According to Moyane, SA tax law makes it a criminal offence for SARS or any other person to disclose the tax affairs of any taxpayer.

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sars  |  eskom  |  tom moyane  |  yunus carrim  |  alf lees
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