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Sars boss reveals shocking moment he got Makwakwa report

Oct 13 2016 07:32
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town - South African Revenue Service (Sars) Commissioner Tom Moyane invited Jonas Makwakwa to be part of a parliamentary delegation in August, with the knowledge of the internal investigation as well as the allegations against him.

DA MP David Maynier on Wednesday asked Moyane why he allowed the now suspended Makwakwa to attend a meeting with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance, despite being aware of a report that suspicious cash payments had been made into the official’s bank account. 

Moyane, who was part of a Sars delegation that briefed parliament on its annual report of 2015/16 and on events surrounding the suspension of Makwakwa, didn’t respond to the question. 

The Sunday Times earlier reported that Makwakwa, formerly second in command at Sars, had been singled out for cash payments into his bank accounts, which amounted to more than R785 000 over a six-year period. 

Moyane received a report, detailing the suspicious transactions in May, but only suspended Makwakwa on 15 September. 

READ: Sars seeks Makwakwa probe, appoints new execs

In Wednesday’s parliamentary briefing, Maynier also asked Moyane to clarify earlier utterances in public that he hadn’t received any cooperation from the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) following the body’s report of Makwakwa’s “suspicious” banking transactions. 

The Sars commissioner earlier stated publicly that he didn’t receive sufficient cooperation from the FIC regarding the report on Makwakwa. 

Moyane again failed to answer the question, but confirmed that he received the report on Makwakwa on 18 May 2016, which meant that he waited close to four months before suspending Makwakwa. 

Giving an account of how he received the report, Moyane said he “changed colour and wanted to puke” when he saw the allegations against Makwakwa. He only shared the information with the Sars head of human resources, fearing that the allegations would be leaked. 

According to Moyane, he wrote a letter to FIC executive director Murray Michel on 20 May to acknowledge receipt of the letter. He subsequently visited Michel at his office on 15 June and wrote again to him on 21 June about the matter. Moyane claimed he followed up on the matter on 21 July. 

In his response, the Michel said the FIC’s function is to refer matters of importance, such as suspicious transactions, taxation issues and alleged acts of criminality, to the relevant authority - be it Sars, or the South African Police Service (Saps). 

READ: Sars, Hawks have not met over Makwakwa allegations - Moyane

“But the FIC is unlikely to know if an institution is undertaking an investigation,” Michel said. In terms of its mandate, the FIC givs referrals and support, such as the description of transactions and how they are linked.

“We advise the recipient authority on what is going down and provide the documents. We don’t give an instruction to investigate. It is incumbent on the recipient authorities to see if they can formulate allegations, which warrant the launch of an investigation. Once an investigation is launched only then evidence is collected to corroborate the allegations.” 

Michel said the FIC was aware that there had been “confirmation of an investigation”, but there were no further requests for additional information from Sars into the matter. 

When questions and responses had been concluded, Standing Committee on Finance chairperson Yunis Carrim (ANC) said that, having heard all the answers, he couldn’t say if there was any evidence of non-cooperation between Moyane and Michel. “What is the relevance? There’s no train smash here.” 

He did, however, ask Moyane why he brought Makwakwa to parliament, while knowing there was an internal investigation brought against him. “Nobody under an enquiry should attend parliament,” Carrim said. 

Maynier said after the meeting it was frustrating not getting any straight answers from the parties involved. “It’s like punching jelly – you never land a blow.” 

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