Wiese disputes amaBhungane tax evasion report

Wiese, who was the wealthiest person in South Africa until the collapse of Steinhoff, told amaBhungane he "got no tax benefit from the scheme". (David Harrison/M&G)

Wiese, who was the wealthiest person in South Africa until the collapse of Steinhoff, told amaBhungane he "got no tax benefit from the scheme". (David Harrison/M&G)

UPDATE:

Former Steinhoff chair Christo Wiese has disputed an amaBhungane report, implicating him in an elaborate multibillion-rand tax evasion scheme.

The investigative unit alleges that papers filed in the Western Cape High Court show that the South African Revenue Service (Sars) wants Wiese and two individuals to be held accountable for R217-million. That R217-million is a part of the R3.7-billion tax claim based on multinational oil and gas exploration company Tullow Oil’s “restructuring”, amaBhungane reported.

According to the article, law firm ENSAfrica created an “aggressive tax structure” which Tullow used to shift assets worth R3.9-billion out of South Africa. Wiese was a former executive of ENSAfrica.

In an interview with Jeremy Maggs on eNCA on Thursday, Wiese said the allegations in the report were “unfounded”.

“The allegations are completely unfounded and unrepresented, and the tragedy is that most of these commentators have difficulty reading English,” Wiese said.

READ MORE: Focus shifts to Steinhoff’s ex-chair Christo Wiese

Wiese went on to explain that in the amaBhungane article, there are two issues where there is a dispute with Sars.
The first issue pertained to an amount of R3.7-billion, which Wiese said, has nothing to do with his Titan group.

The second issue pertains to an amount of R217-million where there is a “dispute between three or four individuals with Sars”. This second issue will be adjudicated “shortly” in court.

When Tullow Oil was restructured by law firm ENS Africa and other tax advisers, Wiese said, the result was the formation of a number shelf companies.

According to Wiese, Sars is pursuing Tullow Oil over the claim that during its restructure, it avoided paying tax to the amount of R3.7-billion.

But, according to Wiese, this move happened “long before” he bought the shelf company.

This issue, Wiese says, has been “dragging on for years” and the matter will be handled next month.

In April, the former billionaire lodged a R59-billion claim against Steinhoff over cash investments made by Wiese’s Titan Group in 2015 and 2016.

The case in the Western Cape High Court is expected to be heard on August 22.

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA.  Read more from Gemma Ritchie

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