Gordhan steps in on Sars scandal

2013-03-24 21:30
Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan.

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan.

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Johannesburg - A retired judge will be appointed to probe allegation of impropriety involving SA Revenue Services (Sars) Commissioner Oupa Magashula, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Sunday.

"I have decided to institute a thorough investigation of the matter," he said in a statement.

"After consultations with the minister of justice [Jeff Radebe], I will appoint a retired judge to establish whether there was any breach of Sars processes, good governance, the nature of any possible indiscretion and to advise on appropriate remedies where breaches may have occurred."

The SA Revenue Service said a tape recording in which Magashula appears to offer a job to an associate of a convicted drug dealer revealed nothing scandalous, the City Press reported.

"Sars has no reason to doubt the integrity of the Sars commissioner in either his professional or private life," Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay told the Sunday paper.

Lackay confirmed the authenticity of the recording in which Magashula - together with convicted drug dealer, Panganathan Marimuthu - allegedly offer a woman a job at Sars.

Lackay said Marimuthu had cornered Magashula at a restaurant and asked him to speak to a friend on a phone.

The commissioner did not know the conversation was being recorded.

In a transcript of the recording published in City Press, Magashula tells the woman that Sars pays very well and offers a variety of experiences.

"My brother Timmy [Marimuthu] here says we can even find you a husband," Magashula says according to the transcript.

He also tells her that since she is 28, she should be earning a million rand.

"You should be having your own seaside apartment."

'Questionable activities'

Lackay told the City Press that the woman spoken to on the recording was never given a job at Sars.

He said the recording was being used for "questionable activities by various persons".

Marimuthu was convicted of dealing in Mandrax in 1992.

Gordhan said it had become evident in recent times that some taxpayers who find themselves in difficulties because of their non-compliance with South African tax and customs laws, were increasingly relying on bullying tactics against Sars officials to prevent the pursuit of investigations as prescribed by the law.

"I wish to send a categorical message to those taxpayers who resort to these bullying tactics that their methods will not succeed."

He said Sars officials would implement tax and customs laws without fear or favour.

"All South Africans must pay their fair share of taxes," he said.

Read more on:    sars  |  oupa magashula  |  jeff radebe  |  pravin gordhan  |  economy

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