North West firm hit with R136m tax bill

2012-04-28 11:50

The SA Revenue Services (Sars) has slammed a controversial North West tenderpreneurship company with a whopping R136 million tax bill after it uncovered that the firm had fraudulently claimed ­R38 million in tax returns.

City Press is in possession of a R136 million final letter of demand that Sars issued against Peolwane Properties.

The taxman wants Peolwane Properties to pay the money immediately or face action.

The Sars action is a sequel to the South Gauteng High Court finding that one of the company’s two shareholders, Lambert Kagisho Lobelo, was a “delinquent director” after he oversaw the fraudulent payment of R38 million to his company.

The court agreed with Lobelo’s business partner, Reginald Kukama, and found that Lobelo had been guilty of “wilful misconduct, breach of trust and a gross abuse of his position as a director”.

Lobelo has appealed against the decision.
 
Now Kukama wants the entire bill to be footed by his partner, Lobelo, whom he says was submitting the invoices without his (Kukama’s) consent or knowledge.

Lobelo and Kukama co-own Peolwane Properties and Diphuka Constructions, and have equal stakes in each. Lobelo is director of Diphuka and ordinary shareholder of Peolwane. The roles are reversed at Peolwane.

Sowetan newspaper reported earlier this month that an auditing firm was currently conducting a forensic investigation into the controversial awarding of a multimillion-rand tender to a company owned by the two men, Tau Pride, for the construction of a community health centre in Rustenburg, North West.

The R108 million project in Tlhabane was due to be completed before the start of the 2010 World Cup.

The court found that between December 2010 and May 2011, Sars made two value-added tax refund payments of R22 715 909 and R39 023 656 to the banking account of Diphuka Construction Limited, which was not due to the two companies.

By paying the R39 million, which was made up of fictitious tax invoices, the company in effect claimed that it had spent just more than R278 million more than it had on the road projects.

Kukama’s argument before court was that though he was a 50% shareholder, Lobelo was sole director of Diphuka at the time and had authorised the payments, which were lawfully due to Peolwane, be paid into Diphuka. The money was never used for Peolwane.

Kukama had argued that Lobelo had hired tax consultancy firm Royal Alliance without his consent.
 
Lobelo told City Press that as far as he was concerned, Sars was still investigating the case and had not made a finding.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay this week confirmed that the matter was reported to Sars.

“We view the alleged fraud as a very serious offence and further arrests may be imminent,” said Lackay.

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