Cape Town – Tax Commissioner Tom Moyane allegedly kept Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in the dark about suspicious and unusual payments to now suspended South African Revenue Service (Sars) official Jonas Makwakwa.
In response to a question by Democratic Alliance spokesperson on finance David Maynier, Gordhan said he only became aware of the issue through an article in the Sunday Times published on September 11 2016.
The Sunday Times reported that Makwakwa, who was “second-in-command” at the Revenue Service, had been singled out for cash payments into his bank account that appeared "suspicious and unusual".
The investigations also focused on three cash deposits, totalling R450 200, to Makwakwa's girlfriend's Absa account just before Christmas 2015.
Moyane was purportedly aware of the report, as it had been handed to him in May. But despite this, Makwakwa and his girlfriend, Kelly-Ann Elskie, who is also a Sars employee, had remained in their positions. Makwakwa and Elskie were only suspended towards the end of September and in the beginning of October.
In his response to Maynier, Gordhan said when he read the report in the media he “immediately contacted Moyane to establish the veracity thereof”.
“This was approximately four months after Mr Moyane was first alerted to the matter through a letter dated 17th May 2016 from the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC),” Gordhan said.
“This matter is exceptionally serious as the allegations were against one of the most senior managers in the organisation and the official was appointed by Mr Moyane.”
Gordhan said the report from the FIC stated that there was a total of 75 transactions done between March 1 2010 and January 31 2016, which amounted to R785 130.00 (R726 400.00 of this money was deposited during 2014 and 2015).
“It is perturbing that considering that the origins of these funds were not confirmed, Mr Moyane allowed Mr Makwakwa to remain in his position dealing with individual and corporate taxpayers,” Gordhan said.
“It is my opinion that Mr Moyane failed to inform me of the matter, possibly in an attempt to resolve the issue without the matter becoming public."
Gordhan was also concerned about the fact that since the report in the newspapers, Moyane “publically criticised” the FIC rather than take the responsibility an accounting officer is expected to assume in dealing with such vital matters.
Moyane accused the FIC of failing to cooperate regarding its report on Makwakwa.
“These and other matters raise serious concerns about the stewardship of a vital fiscal institution,” Gordhan said.Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories