Gupta VAT refunds: SARS head of legal Refiloe Mokoena suspended

2018-10-18 17:37
SARS. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SARS. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has placed its head of legal, Refiloe Mokoena, on suspension.

In September, News24 reported that Mokoena had been served with a notice of intention to suspend and given an opportunity to provide reasons why she should not be axed.

The suspension is in relation to Mokoena's involvement in the unlawful payment of R42m in VAT refunds claimed by Gupta companies that were paid to a series of third parties, including a pay agent and a shelf company.

An investigation by News24 and Daily Maverick revealed how Mokoena had provided the go ahead for the payments to be made despite legal advice from other SARS executives to the contrary.The suspension was confirmed by two SARS insiders close to Mokoena.

It also emerged in an interim report by the SARS Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Judge Robert Nugent, that Mokoena had been suspended.

News24 understands that Mokoena will be fighting her suspension.

Mokoena previously served on the board of state-owned arms manufacturer Denel while it was attempting to establish a joint venture with Gupta-owned VR Laser.

She was hired during now suspended commissioner Tom Moyane's tenure.

SARS admitted in July that the payment of the VAT refunds was illegal as the VAT Act does not allow payments to be made to third parties, specifically to curb fraud.

"VAT refund payments into an attorneys trust account would be a direct contravention of the provisions of section 44(3)(d) of the VAT Act," a SARS spokesperson told News24 and Daily Maverick.

The spokesperson continued, saying that "by all accounts, the SARS processes insofar refunds are concerned, have been followed; however, all these are being reviewed to ensure the robustness of the SARS systems and processes.

"The possibility that governance processes, which include standard operating procedures, have failed and the reasons for the failure is part of our overall review referenced earlier," the response continued.

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