Sars demands R110m payback from Pillay

SARS has issued a demand that suspended deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay pay R110-million that was used in the operation of an illegal intelligence unit, various Sunday newspapers reported. 

According to the Sunday Times and City Press newspapers, Pillay had received a letter of demand and a disciplinary charge sheet that allege Pillay, by establishing the rogue intelligence unit “elevated” staff costs to “R106-million”, which it termed “fruitless and wasteful expenditure”. 

The City Press said that the total amount was also related to the costs incurred by the spy unit’s predecessor, the national research group. The newspaper also reported that it was in possession of the charge sheet in which Pillay was accused of being “party to corruption by paying a bribe” in connection with an apparent R3-million in severance pay given to former unit head Andries Janse van Rensburg. The charge sheet alleges that this payment was used to buy his silence. 

Overall, 10 charges, including corruption, dishonesty and the contravention of the Sars code of conduct, as well as tax and public finance management legislation, are listed on the charge sheet that is dated February 5. 

The Sunday Times reported that Pillay has also been accused of involvement in an allegedly fraudulent arrangement that was made for an early pension payout of R1.2-million for himself, despite remaining employed by the company. 

Spy equipment
Details also emerged in the charge sheet about spy equipment allegedly purchased by the unit including listening devices, night vision binoculars and car trackers. 

On December 5, Pillay and Sars’s strategic planning and risk group executive Peter Richer were suspended for the first time amid allegations of a special projects unit engaging in illegal activities in Sars. Pillay’s suspension was overturned by the Labour Court in Johannesburg. However, earlier this month he was served with a second notice of suspension. 

On Wednesday, the dispute between Sars and Pillay was settled but he remains suspended. The dispute with regard to the suspension on December 5 was “amicably resolved” through conciliation at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. 

Asked about the allegations made against Pillay, Sars employment relations executive Luther Lebelo told the City Press that he could not “confirm or deny such claims since we regard any matter of that nature as legally privileged and private between the employer and employee”. 

The newspaper also quoted unnamed sources saying the allegations against Pillay were baseless. – Sapa

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