Sars eyeing R10bn from tax evaders

2014-02-23 14:00

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The SA Revenue Service’s (Sars’) special investigations unit has in the past 10 years recovered, or is busy retrieving, an estimated R10?billion in unpaid taxes from South Africa’s most notorious gangsters and tax evaders.

Among their scalps is Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, Ponzi supremo Barry Tannenbaum and the who’s who of the underworld: Radovan Krejcir, Glenn Agliotti, Cyril Beeka, Lolly Jackson and Colin Stansfield.

The men and women of Sars’ Tax and Customs Enforcement Investigations unit (TCEI) comprise old Sars hands and young graduates, with a sprinkling of former Scorpions, Hawks, police crime intelligence and National Intelligence Agency officers.

They have access to the steel-encased Financial Intelligence Centre in Midrand where the financial history and communication of any entity or individual can be traced, tracked, analysed, encrypted and scrutinised.

The TCEI is based at Sars headquarters in Pretoria but has offices countrywide.

Its operations are classified and its members’ identities confidential.

The unit is headed by seasoned forensic investigator Johann van Loggenberg about whom little is known, except that he is a law graduate with a post-graduate degree in business management.

Approached for comment this week, Van Loggenberg said he could not speak to media. Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay said Sars did not made public statements about their employees or how they work.

The TCEI unit came to light in 2010 when Malema released a dossier claiming it was used against “Zuma people”.

The dossier, based on statements by disgraced former TCEI member Michael Peega, was later proven to be fictional and Sars fired Peega after he was arrested for alleged rhino poaching.

The unit was started by former Sars commissioner and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan who believed Sars could do more to help other law enforcement units combat organised crime.

He laid the unit’s ground rules: you are not special and cannot harm Sars’ reputation. Do your work and stay humble.

Those the unit have handed hefty tax bills to include Hyundai boss Billy Rautenbach, soccer boss Irvin Khoza, tycoon John Bredenkamp, apartheid criminal Calla Botha, fraudster Barry Tannenbaum, convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti, and murdered strip boss Lolly Jackson’s estate. In December, Sars obtained a preservation order for Krejcir’s assets.

Sars has also pursued mining magnate Brett Kebble’s killers and others in Joburg’s underworld, obtaining tax debt judgments totalling R94 million against Mikey Schultz, Faizel Smith, Nigel McGurk, Alekos Panayi and Juan Meyer.

Schultz and his wife were provisionally sequestrated last week.

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