‘Underworld's' Mark Lifman's court bid against SARS off court roll

2017-02-21 17:04
Mark Lifman (File, Netwerk24)

Mark Lifman (File, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – Controversial businessman Mark Lifman’s application to halt all action by SARS, pending the outcome of a new review of his tax bill, has been removed from the court roll.

This arrangement was by consent between the parties, his attorney Rikesh Sewgoolam said on Tuesday.

No new date had been set yet in the Western Cape High Court.

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

Sewgoolam said the review process was underway.

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 that Lifman is trying to prevent his businesses from being liquidated.

Lifman brought a counter-application to the high court, asking it to interdict SARS from implementing the findings of its audit before a review of his tax affairs had been finalised.

The apparent decision to review Lifman's audit forms part of the actions of a new investigative unit in SARS. It was 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, which prohibits SARS from divulging the matters of individual taxpayers.

‘Illegal spying’

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

SARS had applied to place one of his entities, Seasons Find 764, in final liquidation. Lifman is however trying to place the entity under business rescue.

Lifman's troubles with SARS started in May 2014, when an inquiry into his affairs was launched.

In an affidavit dated November 23, 2016, Lifman said he was trying to understand the reasons behind the inquiry.

"I do not know what allegations the decision to launch the tax inquiry was based on, however information has come to light that it may be based on untested covert intelligence procured by, what is now known as, the 'SARS rogue unit'."

His lawyer had made an official request to SARS for information relating to it.

Lifman, in his affidavit, explained that he believed there was something untoward about the SARS probe into his affairs.

"I have formed the apprehension that I was perhaps the target of illegal spying by government functionaries, especially after realising that a known spy had arranged to meet with me in November 2013," he said.

Read more on:    sars  |  mark lifman  |  cape town

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