'Timmy' Marimuthu faces Sars blackmail charge

2013-07-21 14:00

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The SA Revenue Service (Sars) wants shady Durban businessman Panganathan “Timmy” Marimuthu charged for the blackmail attempt that cost Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula his job.

Sars has asked three state agencies to investigate whether the ­recording of Magashula offering a job to Marimuthu’s associate, Nosipho Mba, was made and distributed illegally.

If it was, the revenue service will press ahead with charges against Marimuthu, a convicted Mandrax dealer, who introduced Magashula to Mba, a member of his New Covenant Fellowship charismatic church in Kenville, Durban.

An inquiry appointed by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan after City Press exposed the relationship found Magashula guilty of inappropriate conduct.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay confirmed they had written to three agencies asking them to probe whether the recording was made and distributed legally.

“Sars was informed by one of these agencies that the matter is being investigated and the outcome of such an investigation would inform what steps Sars would take on the matter,” said Lackay.

The recording was made by police Crime Intelligence operatives who were illegally bugging phones belonging to former national police commissioner Bheki Cele and his associates. Marimuthu, who leases road construction equipment, was a close associate of Cele during his tenure as KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC.

Marimuthu used the recordings to apply pressure to his business rivals and to attempt to get the revenue service to back off.

Marimuthu has been the subject of a lengthy audit process, but his problems may not end there.

Three separate sources connected to Crime Intelligence, for whom Marimuthu is a paid agent, told City Press he failed to disclose his three-year jail term for drug dealing when he applied for a visa to visit the US.

“Timmy Marimuthu entered the US under false pretences,” said one. “He did not inform US immigration that he had a criminal record for drug dealing and was given a custodial sentence for it. There is no way he would have been allowed into the US if he had done so.”

In 1992, Marimuthu was sentenced to three years in jail for dealing in Mandrax after he and business associates were arrested in a police raid on a factory in which about 3 000 Mandrax tablets were recovered.

His appeal failed, but he never served a day in jail after allegedly bribing prison officials, according to evidence presented to the Jali Commission into prison corruption.

US Embassy spokesperson John Hillmeyer said they were not ­allowed to comment on visa ­applications.

Marimuthu did not respond to calls from City Press at the time of writing.

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