EXCLUSIVE: Company involved in Gupta VAT payout previously involved in Moyane nephew scandal

Johannesburg – The company that received the Guptas' SARS VAT payout is closely connected to a company whose R2.2bn contract with SARS was cancelled in 2016 because one of its shareholders was now suspended SARS commissioner Tom Moyane's nephew. 

In 2016, Moyane's nephew Nhlamulo Ndhlela was found to have scored a debt collection contract from SARS worth R220m. 

Ndhlela's company, Lekgotla Outsourcing, was part of Lekgotla Trifecta Collections, a consortium that was awarded a contract to collect R2.2bn of taxpayers' debt. Lekgotla Outsourcing teamed up with Trifecta Capital Collection to form the consortium.

AmaBhungane discovered at the time that the family relationship with Moyane had not been disclosed to the SARS bid adjudication committee. 

When the scandal became public, Moyane denied knowing that his nephew was involved in the company and the contract between SARS and the consortium was cancelled. 

But two years later, it appears that Trifecta has emerged at the centre of another Moyane-SARS scandal, this time with a closely linked company as the receiver of a VAT payout for Gupta and Duduzane Zuma-linked company Oakbay Resources.

Behind the payout

Last year, News24 revealed that Moyane had allegedly been personally involved in a VAT payout to Oakbay Resources of R70m.

READ: Drama at SARS over R70m Gupta refund

Last week the Daily Maverick revealed the details of the process behind the payout and just how involved Moyane allegedly was in having the refund paid out. 

In documents seen by News24, Oakbay director Ronica Ragavan asks SARS to make the payment to a paying agent.

"We are currently using the services of a paying agent who has appointed an attorney, De Jager Van Wyk Inc to provide their trust account services for the purpose of receiving payment from and making payments to SARS," Ragavan wrote. 

SARS responded, saying it could not pay VAT refunds into an attorney's trust account as this goes against both the Tax Administration Act and the VAT Act. 

READ: Parliament asks legal adviser in weigh in on third party VAT repayments

Ragavan responded by providing the bank account details for Terbium Financial Services.  

Same address

But a News24 investigation has revealed that Terbium Financial Services and Trifecta appear to be very closely connected with the same director, the same employees and the same address. 

Documents produced during the Guptas' court bid to keep the Bank of Baroda accounts open showed that Terbium Financial Services was the family's main pay agent until the end of August last year.

The Mail & Guardian stated in September last year that Terbium changed its name from Trifecta Capital earlier in the year, just months after the High Court set aside a contract between Lekgotla Trifecta Collections and SARS. 

Trifecta Capital Collections has taken down its website, but a cached version reveals the company's address to have been 31 Beacon Road, Florida North, Roodepoort. 

This is the same address for Terbium, De Jager Van Wyk Inc and another law firm, DDJ Attorneys.

Trifecta's registration number (2004/034221/07) is currently registered under the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission as belonging to DDJ Outsourcing, which is the trading name for DDJ Attorneys.

Terbium investigation

The same people also appear to have been involved in both companies. Timothy Marshall, who was Trifecta's chief executive, is also the director for Terbium. He was also a director of DDJ Outsourcing, which he resigned from last year.

The telephone number listed for DDJ Attorneys is also the same telephone number used by a number of employees who list Terbium as their employer. Estelle de Jager, who according to Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa was the internal council, group company secretary and head of compliance at the Trifecta Group, is listed on the internet as a person to contact at Terbium Financial Services.

In a letter published by the Daily Maverick, Marshall responded to journalist Pauli van Wyk's story on the Gupta VAT payouts. 

In his response, which he said was the last public statement the company would make, he said Terbium was in litigation with its previous CEO Andre van der Zee.

He said he tried to cancel the contract with Oakbay, but had to see the contract through for legal reasons. He said, however, he had launched an investigation into what happened at the company. 

He admits in his response to the company's connection to the Trifecta SARS debt collection tender "that was awarded to Trifecta in 2016 and which was later set aside in the North Gauteng High Court following an agreement with SARS".

'We were misled and defrauded'

"Any form of wrong-doing in this regard will be made available by me to relevant law enforcement agencies," he said. 

He said he would also contact law enforcement with regard to the Oakbay contract.

"The possible irregularities I have identified thus far include possible contraventions of banking legislation, stock exchange legislation, the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering.

"The evidence thus far suggests that Terbium and I were victims of these alleged crimes, in that other parties seemingly abused our systems, misled and defrauded us and engaged in corrupt practices. In some instances, officials of the state have also been implicated. We will not identify those implicated at this stage for legal reasons," Marshall wrote. 

He said the company planned to make submissions to the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

DDJ Outsourcing director Abdullah Laher said he shared concerns regarding aspects of News24's media query to them. Instead of answering specific questions related to the relationship between the different entities, he attached Marshall's press release and said they were cooperating with Terbium's investigation.

Allegations of Moyane's intervention 'incorrect'

"I urge you to allow the current forensic investigation and audits that have been instituted to run their course," Laher said.

Questions to Moyane went unanswered and it appeared he had switched his phone off. 

SARS denied any knowledge of a link between Trifecta and Terbium and denied that either SARS or the commissioner had any personal relationship with Terbium. 

They also said the assertion that the two companies were the same was incorrect. 

"Trifecta Capital Collections (Pty) Ltd's company registration number is 2004/034221/07 and Lekgotla's company registration number is 2014/087901/07. Terbium Financial Service's company number is 2009/018890/07 and therefore there is no causality between the different companies in the context of the Oakbay refund."

If not, why was due diligence on this issue not done?

The revenue service also said it was incorrect to allege that "the commissioner intervened and forced unwilling SARS officials to make the R70m VAT refund".

READ: SARS denies Moyane acted unlawfully in Gupta VAT repayments

"The commissioner neither participated in the discourse nor offered his opinion on the matter. He relied on the final decision of the chief officer who, based on her consideration of all relevant opinions, instructed business and individual tax division to make the payment." 

SARS added that there was no illegal act on its part in the VAT payout which was legally due to Oakbay.

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