SARS response to City Press

2010-03-20 16:03

Adrian Lackay, spokesperson for SARS, answers questions about former officials who were gathering information and using contacts with the organisation and giving it to the ANC Youth League

1. Is SARS aware that disgruntled former SARS officials were gathering information against individuals for the ANCYL?

SARS has been aware of Michael Peega’s threats to “embarrass” SARS through the media since he made such threats during his internal disciplinary hearing. SARS is in possession of affidavits of witnesses to these threats. SARS is also aware of several meetings and interactions that occurred between dismissed and disgruntled employees during 2009, where the compilation of such a “dossier” was discussed and agreed to.

SARS has reason to believe that the purpose of such a “dossier” was to make fictitious claims against several managers at SARS in an attempt to discredit the organisation. A number of e-mails were also received by SARS during the same period, making similar threats.

All these threats were always stated within the context that the disgruntled officials will withdraw their campaign against SARS if they are paid amounts of money or re-employed.

Peega, whilst in the employ of SARS, often bragged about his connections with influential political persons, to his colleagues at SARS. He also claimed to have been a bodyguard and driver for a number of political people. SARS is aware that Peega, with the assistance of others, compiled a so-called “intelligence dossier” making very serious allegations against the reputation of SARS, and which has been reported on in the media. SARS also knows that Peega and others distributed this document to a variety of people and institutions.

SARS reported this to the law enforcement agencies at the time and has been cooperating with them ever since. When approached by the media with the report, SARS has on many occasions, with painstaking detail, refuted the contents thereof.

2. Is SARS aware that current officials were assisting former officials to get tax information on individuals and their businesses for purposes of intelligence gathering? What is SARS doing about this?

SARS is not aware of specific instances where current officials are assisting former officials to access information in SARS for intelligence gathering purposes.

The secrecy clauses within legislation administered by SARS are not only applicable to current employees of SARS, but also those that leave the employ of SARS.

SARS has noted with concern, the suggestion in the so-called “intelligence dossier” concerning the media, that information was accessed at SARS.

This matter has been referred to the SARS Anti-Corruption and Security Unit for further investigation. In addition, any taxpayer has the right, where it is believed that confidential information in SARS has been illegally obtained or used, to register such complaints with any law enforcement agency.

SARS views its responsibility to protect taxpayer information very seriously. Any such allegations will be vigorously investigated by SARS and full cooperation will be given to law enforcement agencies investigating such claims.

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