Durban book-keeper to face trial in 3 cases of multi million rand tax fraud

2017-02-08 19:07
SARS office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SARS office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Durban - A Durban book-keeper will have to face trial in three separate cases involving tax fraud of about R250m after a judge threw out his high court bid for a stay of prosecution.

Vishan Mohan allegedly splashed almost R3m of his ill-gotten gains on a luxury apartment in Umhlanga. He obtained an interim interdict in the Durban high court in 2016, temporarily halting his prosecution.

This was after he argued that police were ignoring the “kingpin” and that SARS investigators were protecting their own.

The interdict was overturned this week, when Judge Mahendra Chetty ruled it was “inappropriate for this court to prevent the prosecution from bringing charges against an accused, particularly where a significant amount of public money is involved”.

Chetty said a stay of prosecution - even just pending further investigation - would infringe on the doctrine of the separation of powers. It could result in Mohan indefinitely frustrating his prosecution.

Mohan, in an affidavit, claimed he was being singled out and had proof of “a conspiracy involving others” including SARS officials.

Complaint

He names the “kingpin” as being a “wealthy woman” who is the State’s key witness against him in one of the trials. He claims she was working with SARS officials and gave him the invoices to submit.

Mohan is facing criminal charges in three separate matters involving VAT refunds of R235m, R6.4m and R14m. Not all the refunds were paid out.

They relate to his work as an independent tax practitioner for three different companies. The directors of these companies are his co-accused.

In his application, he argued that he had lodged a complaint with the office of Judge Essa Moosa, the oversight judge for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks). He alleged the State was refusing to act on information in his possession, which he claimed could exonerate him.

Moosa referred the matter to the head of the Hawks to take further action depending on the outcome of the SARS investigation.

Mohan said the investigation was still pending and the trials should be stalled until then.

In his judgment this week, Chetty said it had emerged that at the time of getting the interim order, Mohan had not disclosed that one of the trials had already started, and six witnesses had testified and been cross-examined.

On this ground alone, he said, the application should be dismissed.

Chetty said that while Mohan complained that he had evidence to back up his claims of others being involved, he had been stonewalling all investigations, refusing to hand over emails he claimed to have and attempting to dictate who should investigate the matter and how.

Mohan could cross-examine state witnesses and call his own during the trials. If the charges did not stick, he would be acquitted and he could take civil action against the State if he wished, Chetty said.

He set aside the interim order, dismissed the application, and ordered Mohan to pay the costs.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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