Gavin Watson was supposed to testify at tax inquiry on Tuesday

Gavin Watson. (Screenshot)
Gavin Watson. (Screenshot)

The deceased former CEO of embattled Bosasa/African Global Operations, Gavin Watson, was due to testify at an inquiry into his tax affairs on Tuesday.

News24 understands that the inquiry, led by advocate Piet Marais SC, was supposed to hear from Watson as part of an investigation by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) into his tax compliance. The inquiry flowed from testimony at the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture.

More than 20 witnesses are expected to appear before the inquiry, which is a process closed to the public as it relates to tax matters, which SARS is under legislative obligation to keep confidential, News24 earlier reported.

FOLLOW THE LIVE UPDATES | Bosasa boss Gavin Watson killed in car crash at OR Tambo

SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela told News24: "In terms of Section 69 of the Tax Act 2011, SARS does not share of divulge confidential information on taxpayer affairs."

It is uncertain how Watson's death will affect the inquiry.

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted SARS an order establishing the inquiry on March 29, but the order was sealed, prohibiting access to the documents.

The inquiry focused on establishing the facts surrounding allegations that Watson and the companies in the Bosasa stable failed to comply with tax obligations and sought to hide assets from SARS.

Watson, it earlier emerged, paid senior staff cash on a monthly basis, and allegedly instructed his close associates to structure deals to hide the truth from SARS.

READ | Gavin Watson parked his BMW at Bosasa, called prayer meeting day before death ride

These payments were described by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi during testimony before the commission as being an incentive for staff members to keep quiet about alleged bribery practices that continued for years.

Govt contracts worth R12bn

Agrizzi estimated that tens of millions of rand were paid in bribes to, mainly, Department of Correctional Services and Department of Social Development officials in exchange for lucrative multibillion-rand tenders.

He spent more than 10 days on the witness stand, delivering bombshell testimony of alleged illegality involving corrupt tenders, bribes and how the company had allegedly bribed its way out of trouble after being in hot water with the National Prosecuting Authority.

From 2006 to date, Bosasa won government contracts worth an estimated R12bn, National Treasury data shows.

EXTRACT | The Bosasa Billions: Bosasa goes to war

In 2007, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) finalised a report that found bribes were paid to former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti and former correctional services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham in exchange for fencing tenders worth hundreds of millions of rand.

Gillingham and Mti, together with Agrizzi and other Bosasa staff, were charged in February this year with several counts of money laundering and violations of the Public Finance Management Act, as well as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Agrizzi, former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder and senior Bosasa manager Frans Vorster, who were also charged, all appeared before the Zondo commission to give evidence against Bosasa.  

Tenders worth R2bn

The five men face charges relating to four tenders, worth roughly R2bn, which correctional services awarded to Bosasa between May 2004 and December 2005 and alleged bribes paid to Mti and Gillingham. The transactions described in testimony before the Zondo commission all carry tax implications. 

Bosasa changed its name to African Global Operations in 2017, in an attempt to avoid the public scrutiny that the Bosasa name carried.

The name change also coincided with a renewed vision inside the company to expand its business into Africa with President Cyril Ramaphosa's son, Andile, and Chinese surveillance technology giant Dahua Technology.

But the implications may run far wider than just Watson's personal tax affairs.

News24 also previously revealed that the company donated a conservatively estimated R40m to the ANC, according to a source with intimate knowledge of Bosasa's affairs, over nearly two decades.

Despite allegations of corruption surrounding Bosasa being in the public domain since 2007, former ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize admitted that the party continued to accept donations from the company. 

Donations carry tax implications for both parties involved and could spell trouble for the ANC if tax donations were not properly managed.

A controversial donation of R500 000 was also made to Ramaphosa's presidential campaign by Watson in the run-up to the ANC's national elective conference.

GET THE NEWS at your fingertips and download the News24 app for Android or iPhone.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
The EFF has voted with the DA to ensure they now govern Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. Was this:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
A brilliant strategic move by the DA not to make formal coalition agreements
24% - 1857 votes
A brilliant strategic move by the EFF to force the DA to negotiate with them
16% - 1245 votes
A recipe for disaster and five more years of unstable local government
60% - 4596 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.