SA Revenue Service boss Tom Moyane suspended

Cape Town - Mark Kingon will head the SA Revenue Service in an acting capacity, after former Commissioner Tom Moyane was suspended late on Monday night. 

In a late-night statement on Monday evening, the Presidency announced that Moyane had been suspended with "immediate effect" pending the institution of disciplinary proceedings.

"President Ramaphosa said [the suspension] was in the public interest to restore the credibility of SARS without delay," said Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko on Monday evening.

"In a letter to Mr Moyane, President Ramaphosa said 'Developments at the SARS under your leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised. For the sake of the country and the economy, this situation cannot be allowed to continue, or to worsen,'" said Diko.

The statement confirms an earlier report by Business Day, which stated that Ramaphosa had initially offered Moyane the opportunity to resign, but he had declined. 

It did not say what Moyane's disciplinary process would entail.

Kingon

Before being named acting Commissioner, Kingon was the revenue service's acting chief officer for business and individual tax.

He was only appointed to that role last week Wednesday, after top SARS official Jonas Makwakwa abruptly stepped down. When he took over from Makwakwa, SARS in a statement said that Kingon had been with the tax agency for close to 34 years.

"Mark is a respected senior executive who has risen through the ranks of the organisation, having worked in enforcement and in the legal department of SARS, amongst others. He is also widely respected within the broader professional tax community," said the revenue service in a statement on March 14.

Makwakwa, VAT refund 

The statement by the Presidency on Monday evening referenced two specific reasons for Moyane's suspension, as well as a "deterioration in public confidence" in the tax agency under his watch.

The two reasons cited were Moyane's handling of the investigation into top SARS official Jonas Makwakwa, and "the management of VAT refunds" which had "brought the SARS into serious disrepute". 

Makwakwa, the agency's former chief officer for business and individual tax, resigned from SARS last week for "personal reasons". He is being probed by priority crime investigative unit the Hawks for corruption and money laundering.

He has said he is innocent of the charges.

While the Presidency did not give examples of maladministration in the management of VAT refunds in the statement, Moyane has been under the spotlight recently for his role in handling millions of rands in VAT refunds to a Gupta-linked company via a third party.

SARS had previously denied that Moyane acted unlawfully or even played a prominent role in sanctioning these refunds.

Earlier on Monday, before his suspension was announced, the revenue service in a statement had claimed that Moyane had become the focus of an unfair "media onslaught”.

* Update on Tuesday March 20 at 07:15. This article was updated to reflect that a new acting commissioner for SARS had been named. 

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