SARS mum on Lifman audit

2016-11-25 16:07
Mark Lifman (Netwerk24)

Mark Lifman (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - SARS has refused to comment on revelations that a forensic auditor in its Cape Town office offered to review alleged underworld figure Mark Lifman's tax bill of almost R400m.

News24 revealed on Thursday that an internal war had broken out in SARS after auditor Gavin Cairns wrote to Lifman on November 3 to confirm that he would review the controversial businessman's audit "at your office" in January 2017.

Lifman's tax affairs formed part of Project All Out, during which SARS audited the businesses and assets of Lifman and his associates. He was served with a R388m tax bill last year and is trying to place some of his businesses under business rescue.

SARS is opposing the action, arguing Lifman is trying to prevent his businesses from being liquidated.

Lifman brought a counter-application to the Western Cape High Court, asking it to interdict SARS from implementing the findings of its audit before a review of his tax affairs has been finalised.

The "decision" to review Lifman's audit forms part of the actions of a new investigative unit in SARS, established under tax commissioner Tom Moyane, to investigate the involvement of SARS officials in the illicit tobacco trade.

Asked by News24 how Lifman's audit relates to the tobacco investigation, SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela quoted the tax secrecy clause prohibiting SARS from divulging the matters of individual taxpayers.

"Also, the matter is before the courts. SARS cannot comment until the legal process has been completed," Memela said.

It is unclear what SARS's position will be when the case resumes in the Western Cape High Court on November 28. Lawyers instructed by the original investigating team have denied knowledge of a review of Lifman's tax affairs by SARS.

The tobacco investigation is led by senior SARS investigator Yegan Mundie, who was copied on Cairns' letter to Lifman.

On Thursday, Lifman told News24 all he wanted was to be treated fairly.

Read more on:    sars  |  mark lifman

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