Sars man goes out in the cold

2014-11-16 15:00

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The group executive of the SA Revenue Service (Sars), Johan van Loggenberg, was the first to feel the heat this week as new commissioner Tom Moyane started shaking up the revenue service.

Van Loggenberg was this week handed a formal suspension letter and informed that Sars would charge him within days. He has been on special leave since September and is now being charged with misconduct and bringing the organisation into disrepute.

The suspension has triggered fears of a cleanup of the

old guard that was loyal to former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and to deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

Van Loggenberg – who was born as Van Loggerenberg but changed his surname legally – is embroiled in a tawdry tale of spying and love gone sour.

He is the key subject of an inquiry set up by Sars and chaired by Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane to probe allegations that he led a rogue intelligence unit in the revenue service, which spied on top politicians, including President Jacob Zuma.

Sikhakhane has completed the investigation and has handed his report

to Moyane.

But the group under threat at Sars is fighting back. Calling themselves “friends of Johan”, they are setting up a fund to contribute to his legal fees.

“There’s a division between those who want to persecute Johan and those who say we will defend him against persecution,” said a Sars insider who is sympathetic to Van Loggenberg.

This week, Moyane also announced that he had stripped the Sars executive committee (exco) – its top management structure – of its advisory role and would now deal with each senior manager individually.

The Sars exco has eight members: deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, chief officer of investigations Gene Ravele, chief operations officer Barry Hore, chief officer of human resources Elizabeth Kumalo, chief legal and policy officer

Kosie Louw, acting chief financial officer Bob Head and Sunita Manik, who heads the Sars large business unit.

Moyane, who was appointed on the instruction of President Jacob Zuma, has set his sights on dismantling the old structure and starting afresh.

In an affidavit presented to the Sikhakhane inquiry, which is in the possession of City Press, Van Loggenberg makes sensational claims of espionage in the tobacco industry, illegal tobacco import rings and tax avoidance by players in the industry in collusion with current and former agents of state intelligence agencies.

He also details his relationship with Belinda Walter, the attorney who represented small tobacco companies but has since been accused of spying for the State Security Agency and tobacco giant British American Tobacco.

State Security Agency spokesperson Brian Dube said they had referred all allegations concerning illegal spy activities involving the tobacco industry and Sars to the inspector-general of intelligence to see if any of their agents or officials had broken any laws. They were now waiting for that report to be handed to the minister.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay said the allegations were part of an ongoing investigation by Moyane. He said Moyane had received reports from Sikhakhane and the inspector general of intelligence and was studying them.

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