Ivan Pillay, Peter Richer quit SARS

Johannesburg - Suspended SA Revenue Service (SARS) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and strategic planning risk group executive Peter Richer have resigned from SARS with immediate effect.

In a statement released this morning, SARS spokesperson Luther Lebelo said: "SARS has accepted their resignations, and hereby confirms that the parting of ways was amicable.

"SARS acknowledges and appreciates the contribution of Mr Pillay and Mr Richer during their years of service in SARS and wishes them all the best in their future endeavours."

This dramatic announcement comes after a protracted and acrimonious disciplinary process for Pillay and Richer. SARS was also considering laying criminal charges against Pillay following the conclusion of the work of the advisory panel headed by Judge Frank Kroon, which was appointed by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

In a statement released last week, the Kroon panel recommended that some matters pertaining to the formation of the so-called illegal rogue spy unit at SARS be referred to the police for investigation, and that those found to have broken the law should be swiftly charged.

At the same time, forensic auditors at KPMG were conducting a parallel investigation which City Press has learned has uncovered a number of other irregularities allegedly committed by senior SARS employees.

However, Lebelo's statement this morning said that "all charges and related investigations" against Pillay and Richer "have been withdrawn".

On Sunday, City Press reported that SARS lawyers were this week going to write to cooperative governance minister Pravin Gordhan, insisting that he testify at Pillay's disciplinary hearing presided over by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.

The letter was sent on Wednesday, but it will not be acted upon as the diciplinary process is no longer going ahead.

City Press also reported that nine additional charges had been added to Pillay's disciplinary charge sheet, and his hearing was due to begin later this month.

A senior source within SARS told City Press last week that if Gordhan declined to appear before the disciplinary panel, SARS would assume he approved of the formation of the rogue spy unit. Two other senior SARS sources familiar with the matter told City Press the tax collector’s lawyers had been battling to get Gordhan to testify against his former deputy commissioner.

Last month, City Press reported that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was involved in negotiating an exit deal for Pillay.

Pillay and Richer join a list of people who have left the revenue collector since the exodus of staff following allegations of a rogue unit operating within SARS.

They include former SARS chief operating officer Barry Hore; modernisation and strategy head Jérôme Frey; the head of the case selection division under Hore, Jacques Meyer; anti-corruption and security head Clifford Collings; SARS investigations head Johan van Loggerenberg; Pillay’s special adviser Yolisa Pikie; and spokespeople Adrian Lackay and Marika Muller.

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