Tax Dodger

2010-03-07 07:13

Julius Malema has not submitted tax returns since his election as ANC Youth League president two years ago, City Press has found.

None of his four companies – of which he is still a registered director and shareholder?– are tax- ­compliant, while Malema himself has ­never submitted returns.

A whistleblower told Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille that both Malema’s personal taxes and those of businesses ­associated with him were under ­investigation.
The whistleblower revealed that Malema’s companies were not ­tax-compliant, that he was being ­favourably treated and that no tax clearance certificates (TCCs) had been issued to his companies. To qualify for ­tender consideration a company must have a TCC.

City Press independently verified the claims and found that a high-level South African Revenue Service (Sars) investigation team has been assigned to Malema’s case.

Malema lashed out at Sars for ­targeting him by conducting an ­audit of his income when news of the youth leader’s business interests were exposed three weeks ago.

He also dared Sars to investigate him, saying: “If there are things that Sars is not comfortable with, Sars is allowed to come and investigate and take us to task.”

The informant, who asked to ­remain anonymous for fear of ­victimisation, said Malema’s ­personal tax files were removed from the database of ordinary South Africans and were placed on the VIP database, which throws a veil of ­secrecy around them.
“Only selected officials are given access codes to gain entry to those VIP files. Access to such files is ­monitored,” the source said.

He said Sars investigators were also looking at the affairs of ­Malema’s four companies.
Three of the companies had not traded and were in the process of ­being deregistered by the companies registrar, Cipro.

A government official said Sars investigators were probing how SGL Engineering Projects – a ­company in which Malema is a 70% majority shareholder – obtained its TCCs. By law, trading companies needed to apply to Sars for TCCs to ensure that their taxes were in ­order.

“There are some questions about how the TCCs were issued to SGL. Those are the subject of an investigation,” the source said.

Malema’s lawyer, Tumi Mokwena, said he had no instruction from his client to comment on the matter and could do so only once he had been ­advised to.

He said he would wait for such an instruction before commenting.

City Press made several ­attempts, including telephone calls, SMSes and emails, to get comment from ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu but he did not respond.

Sars refused to comment on the matter. Spokesperson Adrian Lackay said: “Sars has consistently maintained that this individual is entitled to the same protection and confidentiality of his tax affairs in terms of the Income Tax Act as any other taxpayer.

“Sars will continue to administer tax laws equally to the affairs of all taxpayers without preference, fear or favour.”

In Parliament this week De Lille submitted written questions to the Presidency about Malema’s businesses.

Among her questions, De Lille wanted to know whether the companies (Malema’s) met all the requirements necessary to be awarded a tender and whether it could be confirmed that the ­companies submitted tax clearance certificates before they were granted tenders.

Last week City Press disclosed that Malema – after denials that he held any shares in SGL – was in fact a 70% shareholder in the company. In reaction to the ­reports, he accused a City Press journalist of forging his signature “to make me look bad”.

However, Cipro spokesperson Dr Elsabé Conradie told The ­Citizen newspaper that the ­signature on the documents was not tampered with and the ­papers were submitted by the company.

“The signature on the documents is the same as that of other Malema signatures, which we know are genuine,” Conradie was quoted as saying.

Mokwena said the veracity of the document, a copy of which was given to him by City Press at a media briefing on Tuesday, could not be confirmed.

Mokwena said he had launched an investigation into how ­Malema became a director of SGL a year after he started the process to deregister his ­businesses.

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