Sars commissioner Magashula resigns after scandal
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced on Friday that he has accepted Magashula’s resignation and that Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay has been appointed acting commissioner.
"The South African Revenue Service is one of the key pillars of our fiscal order, and therefore, our democratic dispensation. It is an institution whose very foundations are built on the trust and credibility that South African taxpayers have in it. It is therefore critical that those to whom the stewardship of this vital fiscal institution is entrusted conduct themselves, during and after working hours, in a manner that ensures that they are above question," Gordhan said in the statement.
The minister reassured South Africans that Sars is committed to “the highest level of integrity”.
In light of the incident, Gordhan is set to appoint a committee to review Sars’s governance and ethical standards, especially as it pertains to the office of the commissioner. He will also call on the public to review the code and recommend improvements.
Magashula tendered his resignation on Thursday following the outcome of a fact-finding inquiry into these allegations. Gordhan had called for the inquiry after media reports earlier this year revealed that Magashula had offered a R700 000-a-year job at Sars to a 28-year-old chartered accountant, who belonged to the same church as convicted drug dealer Panganathan “Timmy” Marimuthu.
Retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob and advocate Muzi Sikhakhane lead the inquiry committee.
While the committee found no evidence that Magashula had committed a crime, it said that he had been “much less frank with the committee than the committee would have expected of the person who had the integrity essential to his position” and that Magashula had placed the reputation and credibility of Sars at risk.
According to the City Press, a recording of an exchange involving Magashule, Marimuthu and the chartered accountant “Nosipho” came to light when an associate of Marimuthu’s, charged with tax evasion, tried to use it to force Sars and the National Prosecuting Authority to drop their case. There were also claims that Marimuthu himself tried to use the recordings for a similar purpose. Transcripts of the exchange obtained by the newspaper were damning.
The committee was unable to deduce the precise number of people who may have been involved in what it saw as an “attempt to blackmail the Sars commissioner”.
Marimuthu did not agree to be interviewed by the committee.