9 alleged members of R99m VAT fraud syndicate arrested

accreditation

Pretoria - Eight men and one woman have been arrested for allegedly operating a large-scale value added tax (VAT) fraud scam "with a potential loss to the fiscus of more than R90m", a Hawks spokesperson said on Thursday.

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said Hawks teams arrested the nine suspects - aged between 35 and 70 - at their homes in upmarket residential areas in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal during a search and seizure operation conducted simultaneously at 12 premises at dawn on Wednesday.

He said a number of business premises were also searched during the operation.

READ: Couple busted in massive Bloemfontein VAT scam

The operation was planned with the assistance of the Hawks' cybercrime and commercial crime units and the South African Police Service tactical response units following an investigation by criminal investigators from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Mulaudzi said in a statement.

He said the SARS investigation revealed that the syndicate, which included a bookkeeper who works in Durban and in Benoni, allegedly claimed R99m fraudulent refunds through 15 registered "but fictitious VAT vendors".

"False VAT vendor details, with fraudulent supporting documents, were used to register the vendors," he said.

Money laundered

He said SARS had already paid out approximately R30.6m before the scam was uncovered. Further payments have been stopped, he said.

"The proceeds of the scam were deposited in bank accounts from where the money was allegedly laundered through at least 35 so-called suppliers," he said.

The Hawks have confiscated weapons and luxury goods as part of an investigation into a VAT fraud. (Supplied)

An AK47 and a pistol whose serial number had been filed off as well as approximately €2 300, (R250 000) in cash, several gold bars, Krugerrands worth millions and bags full of possibly incriminating documents were seized during the operation.

"Among the documents detained were identity documents and bank cards of the people who had been registered as VAT vendors. Vehicles parked in front of the posh homes in Wierda Park, a Centurion estate where operations were conducted, included a Maserati and a Mercedes Benz Gelandewagen," he said.

The Hawks have confiscated weapons and luxury goods as part of an investigation into a VAT fraud. (Supplied)

The suspects were expected to appear in the commercial crime courts in Durban and Pretoria on Thursday, he added.

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
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
President Ramaphosa has punted the idea of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for South Africans. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
The right thing to do. We desperately need more South Africans vaccinated to prevent further mutations and restore normality in our lives.
72% - 1457 votes
A risky strategy. Compulsory vaccinations may have unintended consequences and damage our rollout campaign.
28% - 556 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.16
+0.8%
Rand - Pound
21.56
+0.0%
Rand - Euro
18.24
+0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.55
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.14
-0.2%
Gold
1,793.35
-0.0%
Silver
23.25
+0.4%
Palladium
1,782.50
+1.8%
Platinum
973.00
+1.8%
Brent Crude
72.72
-11.6%
Top 40
63,185
+1.2%
All Share
69,562
+1.4%
Resource 10
65,129
+1.7%
Industrial 25
93,309
+0.4%
Financial 15
13,383
+3.0%
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.

LEARN MORE