Sars tight-lipped on the resignation of senior officials

​Sars has declined to comment on a report on Monday about the resignation of another of its senior officials. (Gallo)

​Sars has declined to comment on a report on Monday about the resignation of another of its senior officials. (Gallo)

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) declined to comment on a report on Monday about the resignation of another of its senior officials.

Head of modernisation and strategy, Jerome Frey quit, Business Day reported.

Responding to questions on the resignation, Sars spokesperson Marika Muller said: “These are by their nature, confidential between employee and employer. We are not in a position to comment as regards Mr Frey.

“Sars’s work continues as normal, and our commitment to our core mandate – especially to the challenge of revenue collection in a difficult climate – is unchanged.” she said.

On December 5 2014, Sars commissioner Tom Moyane announced the suspension of deputy commissioner, Ivan Pillay, as well as Strategic Planning and Risk Group executive, Peter Richer.

This followed the appointment by Pillay of a panel to investigate allegations reported in the media about a special projects unit and its alleged illegal activities at Sars.

Sars chief operations officer Barry Hore had also resigned. On Monday, it was reported that Pillay and Richer would challenge their suspensions in the Labour Court this week.

Hore also faced a disciplinary charge of racism despite quitting, according to the report.

Tax non-compliance
On Sunday, City Press reported that when Pillay read about the costs of upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, he commissioned legal advice on the tax implications. The advice he received was that such benefits attract tax, even if a property was built on communal trust land, as was the case with Nkandla.

According to the report, Pillay read about the sprawl of businesses and trusts linked to the first family and told Zuma they needed to be made tax compliant.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, told the newspaper the president could not disclose all his meetings with individuals, ministers or officials, “otherwise government cannot function”.

“It would cause bedlam.
Imagine if you had to disclose all your source meetings?” he was quoted as saying.

On Friday the Mail & Guardian reported that a factor that led to Pillay’s suspension was his refusal to let a consignment of ANC T-shirts, imported from China, be released by customs without duty being paid.

Sars has been at the centre of reports over the last few weeks about an allegedly rogue intelligence unit set up in 2007.

Alleged cover-ups
Previously, the Sunday Times reported allegations that the unit had been involved in setting up a brothel in Durban as a cover for officials working from home, it had spied on a wide range of people including: taxi hit-men, drug-lords, cigarette and abalone smugglers and Sars officials and politicians. The report said that some Sars officials were infiltrated into the ANC as bodyguards.

In September, then head of tax and customs investigations, who allegedly headed the unit at one time, Johann van Loggerenberg, was placed on special leave pending a probe into alleged misconduct.

In November, Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay urged that the investigation into the matter be allowed to complete its work, before further discussion. City Press reported that Moyane had formally suspended Van Loggerenberg.

The Sunday Times published what it said was an extract of his notice of suspension. According to the notice he was suspended to allow for an investigation into alleged irregularities, misconduct, and for bringing the organisation into disrepute. 

The newspaper reported that Van Loggerenberg denied all allegations against him. –Sapa

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