Guess who's back? SARS official who quit under a cloud crops up at Botswana tax agency

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Jonas Makwakwa
Jonas Makwakwa
SARS

Jonas Makwakwa, a former top official at the SA Revenue Service (SARS), has cropped up as a consultant to Botswana's tax agency, according to media reports.

The Botswana Gazette reported that authorities are investigating how the Africa Tax Academy, a company that has Makwakwa as a director, was appointed as a consultant to the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS).

Makwakwa quit SARS in 2018 under a cloud, although he denied any wrongdoing and said he was leaving for "personal reasons". 

A close confidant of former SARS boss Tom Moyane, Makwakwa was suspended from SARS over accusations of irregular deposits into his bank account in 2016. 

Company records show that the Africa Tax Academy was registered in early 2017. Makwakwa joined the academy as a director in June 2018, after he resigned from SARS. 

Following an investigation by law firm Hogan Lovells, Makwakwa was cleared of wrongdoing in an internal hearing and reinstated. He returned to SARS in November 2017. But the law firm later denied being asked to investigate the suspicious payments.

He resigned on 14 March 2018. Moyane was fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa seven months later. 

While Botswana's tax agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from News24, it previously confirmed to Botswana publication The Monitor that it had engaged the Africa Tax Academy, of which Makwakwa is one of the directors.

'Surprising'

Karam Singh, executive director of anti-corruption lobby group Corruption Watch, said it was odd to see Makwakwa back at a national tax agency. 

"Given the adverse findings against him at the Nugent Commission, that he was involved with Moyane in destabilising SARS, it is surprising to him emerge in this role as a consultant to the Botswana government," Singh said.

The inquiry found that Makwakwa had been closely involved with the disastrous restructuring of SARS in conjunction with Moyane and consultancy Bain & Co.  

Retired Judge Robert Nugent found the restructure had been "devastating for many employees who were displaced, and proved to be detrimental to the efficiency and governance of SARS".

Bain & Co was last year banned from tendering for public sector contracts for a decade for engaging in "corrupt and fraudulent practices" related to its contract at SARS. 

Correction: This article previously implied that Makwakwa joined the Africa Tax Academy in 2017 while he was suspended from SARS. This is incorrect. While the academy was established in 2017, he only joined it in 2018 after resigning from SARS. 

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