Ramaphosa names retired Judge Robert Nugent to head SARS inquiry

Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that former Judge Robert 'Bob' Nugent will chair a commission of inquiry into the country's tax administration. 

Nugent is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal. Former President Jacob Zuma also appointed him to act as a judge of the Constitutional Court for November 3 - 30 in 2015. 

Ramaphosa, during his maiden State of the Nation Address in February, had said the commission would ensure that the credibility of SARS is restored, as well as its capacity to meet revenue targets.

The tax agency has in recent years faced criticism around lower than expected revenue collection, problems around VAT refunds and allegations of corruption around top staff. 

The agency's former commissioner Tom Moyane was suspended by Ramaphosa in mid-March. He is set to face a disciplinary hearing. 

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday for the Presidency's budget vote, Ramaphosa said that Nugent would be assisted by Michael Katz, Mabongi Masilo and Vuyo Kahla. 

"The stabilisation of the South African Revenue Service has received priority attention," he said. The commission's terms of reference of the inquiry will be gazetted in coming days. 

Earlier on Wednesday National Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat told Parliament’s oversight committee on finance that the inquiry was expected to consider the adequacy and legality of steps that SARS has taken to address revenue shortfalls over the past two years. 

It is also expected to cover the issue of VAT refunds, mining rehabilitation funds, and excise and customs provisions related to the tobacco trade. 

“Treasury hopes that the commission’s work could also assist in strengthening SARS capacity to deal with illicit financial flows and tax evasion by highly-connected individuals,” he said. 

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