The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has dismissed a claim that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) acted unfairly in axing its chief legal officer, Refiloe Mokoena.
News24 reported in 2018 that Mokoena was suspended in relation to VAT refunds claimed by Gupta-affiliated companies, which SARS paid to third parties in contravention of the VAT Act. 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.
Mokeona was dismissed by SARS in November 2019, following a disciplinary hearing. Mokoena had been found guilty on several counts, related to Gupta-linked Oakbay.
According to a statement issued by SARS on Tuesday, the disciplinary hearing found Mokoena "actively facilitated" VAT refunds to the value of R150 million, without having reasonable cause to do so. She also did not have "requisite tax and/or legal knowledge" but overruled SARS and external experts on tax law when she justified her instruction that the Oakbay refunds be paid into a third party account. Mokeona also caused taxpayer information to be shared, breaching provisions of tax legislation that requires taxpayer information to be kept confidential, SARS said.
The CCMA on Monday dismissed Mokoena's claim that SARS acted unfairly in axing her following the disciplinary hearing.
"The CCMA rejected Ms Mokoena's contention that there was no prima facie case against her. It also drew a negative inference from Ms Mokoena's decision not to give evidence or call witnesses in support of her case," the statement read.
"… She had acted so dishonourably and had exhibited qualities that made her unsuitable to serve as SARS' Chief Legal Officer," SARS said.