The Hawks in Johannesburg have arrested two former SARS auditors for alleged tax crimes worth some R321 million, the unit announced on Tuesday.
The auditors, Corah Madlepollo Kooko and Noluthando Sipokazi Mbanga, as well as a third suspect, Mlondolozi Mncube - who has been described as a "runner" - have been charged with tax fraud that led to a loss of over R277 million to SARS.
The Hawks said that SARS investigators had uncovered a syndicate of more than 20 individuals who were involved in "extensive VAT fraud" and operated over a three-year period. The accused worked in collaboration with small and medium enterprise owners who claimed undue VAT refunds from SARS for their entities.
"Most of the fraudulent invoices were uploaded from the SARS branch in Randfontein, where some of the implicated suspects were based," the Hawks said in a statement.
According to the investigating unit, taxpayers, runners, current and former employees of SARS, as well as bank employees, were also caught up in this "web of deceit" which took place between 2013 and 2016.
The Hawks said R44 million of the defrauded R277 million had already been recovered through an investigation process it conducted with SARS.
The three suspects appeared in the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday, and were each granted R10 000 bail. Their next court appearance is on 13 July 2021.