How Sars bust Lifman

2015-04-12 15:00

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Mark Lifman and Cape Town gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen became primary subjects in Sars’ project Honey Badger in 2013.

When Honey Badger was registered, the South African fiscus was losing an estimated R3?billion a year through illegal cigarette smuggling, aggressive tax schemes and corruption in the tobacco industry.

One arm of project, Honey Badger looked into Lifman and his business associate, Booysen, who is the gang leader of the Belhar Sexy Boys gang.

Honey Badger also looked at Lifman’s business alliance with convicted drug dealer Glen Agliotti, and his association with cigarette manufacturer Adriano Mazzotti.

Mazzotti is one of the directors of cigarette manufacturing company CarniLinx (Pty) Ltd, which then came under investigation for tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.

Managed by Johann van Loggerenberg, the former Sars group executive for tax and customs enforcement investigations (TCEI), Honey Badger became an amalgamation of investigations into various tobacco industry players, including British American Tobacco (BAT) and smaller companies.

Van Loggerenberg resigned from Sars after he was accused of running an illegal intelligence unit. The allegations came to light after Van Loggerenberg’s former girlfriend, Belinda Walter, approached Sars.

Walter is a former agent for the State Security Agency. She also spied for BAT, as well as the lawyer of the independent cigarette manufacturers.

A number of Sars investigators and senior managers, including acting head Ivan Pillay, have since either been suspended or placed under investigation by new Sars boss Tom Moyane. This happened months after the tobacco companies received letters from Sars placing them on terms regarding their tax affairs.

Tobacco companies under investigation in operation Honey Badger include:

.?Phoebus Apollo, owned by Hennie Delport who has unresolved criminal, civil and tax claims against him;

.?Pan African Tobacco Group, the largest tobacco company in Africa, which is owned by Tribert Ayabatwa.

Ayabatwa is a Rwandan industrialist who owns a significant property portfolio in South Africa. In Rwanda and Burundi, where he is based, he is known as Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa. He was named in a 2008 UN Security report as a funder of the ongoing war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

He employed Walter as his lawyer. He is regarded as one of Africa’s richest men with a personal fortune of more than $200?million (about R2.4?billion).

Ayabatwa pleaded guilty to tax fraud seven years ago after he fled to the United Kingdom. He was arrested for owing Sars hundreds of millions of rand in taxes;

.?Masters International, a Zimbabwean tobacco company owned by John Bredenkamp;

.?Delta Tobacco formerly owned by Yusuf Kajee. Delta was raided by Sars and re-opened as Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturing (ATM). Kajee testified in Lifman’s inquiry, providing evidence that Lifman and luxury car dealer, Zunaid Moti, were responsible for “debt collection” to the tune of R20?million – which Kajee owed to John Bredenkamp.

City Press has learnt that Lifman, as “debt collecter”, received about R75?000 a month collected on Kajee’s debt. Kajee also revealed Lifman owed him R5?million;

.?CarniLinx, owned by Adriano Mazzotti, who sued Walter and later withdrew the claim when she confessed to being an SSA agent and providing information

to BAT. Sars was after Mazzotti for R300?million in undeclared taxes;

.?British American Tobacco or BAT, which Sars were after for about R800?million in suspected unpaid or undeclared taxes; and

.?Royal Sonic and its owner, Faizel Hattia, who is on the board of Kajee’s company ATM. President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward is a business associate of Kajee.

Honey Badger’s future is now uncertain after the recent drama gripping Sars in the wake of the illegal spy scandal.

Van Loggerenberg declined to comment. Walter also declined to comment.

Who is Mark Lifman?

Mark Roy Lifman is well known in all the wrong circles of Cape Town.

Described as one of the country’s most glamorous gangsters because of his love of fancy cars, designer clothes, nightclubs, overseas travel and gangsters with real guns, Lifman is no stranger to controversy.

His career highlights include:

.?A massive property empire – built partly on property holdings in partnership with his business associate, Jerome “Donkey” Booysen, the self-confessed gang leader of the Sexy Boys gang from Belhar;

.?In 2009, Lifman was acquitted on charges of indecently assaulting seven boys and attempting to murder their alleged pimp;

.?He is currently facing scores of criminal charges for running, with business associate Andre Naude, an unregistered security and bouncer organisation called Specialised Protection Services.

SPS was formed in 2012 after the death of Cape Town underworld figure Cyril Beeka, who Radovan Krejcir allegedly had murdered;

.?Lifman has been banned from any involvement in horse racing after allegedly intimidating jockeys. He used to own racehorses before being banned; and

.?Lifman’s blue Porsche Cayenne was parked in the driveway of a house belonging to known gangsters and drug dealers when the police’s Operation Combat raided the premises in Boston, Cape Town, last year. The police confiscated more than 500 Mandrax tablets and about 3kg of tik (methamphetamine)

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