Sars and Pillay settle dispute

Peter Richer and Ivan Pillay (right) were suspended after being implicated in claims of a rogue spy unit within Sars. (Elizabeth Sejake, Gallo).

Peter Richer and Ivan Pillay (right) were suspended after being implicated in claims of a rogue spy unit within Sars. (Elizabeth Sejake, Gallo).

The dispute between the South African Revenue Service and its deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay has been settled, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) said on Wednesday.

“The CCMA can confirm that the matter between South African Revenue Service [Sars] and Pillay has been settled as a result of a successful CCMA conciliation process,” said the commission.

The CCMA declined to provide further details, as did legal counsel for Pillay. 

Pillay took the matter to the CCMA last week after being suspended for a second time after winning a successful Labour Court bid to be reinstated.

A day after Labour Court Judge Annelie Basson ordered that he be reinstated immediately, he was suspended again, along with other top managers. There was concern from Sars that he would tamper with evidence.

Pillay was suspended for allegedly setting up a rogue unit within the revenue service that was conducting investigations Sars said were infringing on the intelligence service roll.

It was decided after discussion at the CCMA to attempt to resolve the matter through conciliation and it appears this process was successful. 

Pillay declined to comment after the hearing on Wednesday, saying that a condition of his suspension was that he does not speak to the media. 

The Labour Court ruled in Pillay’s favour after Basson found that a report by a panel headed by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane had not recommended that action be taken against Pillay. 

In addition to charges that relate to Pillay setting up a covert intelligence unit, he was accused of fraudulently contriving his early retirement, allegedly with the knowledge of then finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Pillay contends that the unit had approval at the highest level of government.

In 2007, Gordhan allegedly approved a request to fund special capabilities in the National Intelligence Agency to partner with Sars. The minister is said to have known that Sars lacked the mandate or capability to perform such a function on its own.

The proviso, however, was that Sars would limit its investigations to taxpayers and customs and excise clients.

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