Moyane denies any wrongdoing in Gupta tax refund

Indian businessmen, Ajay Gupta and younger brother Atul Gupta at a one on one interview with Business Day in Johannesburg, South Africa on 2 March 2011 regarding their professional relationships. Picture: Gallo Images/Business Day/Martin Rhodes
Indian businessmen, Ajay Gupta and younger brother Atul Gupta at a one on one interview with Business Day in Johannesburg, South Africa on 2 March 2011 regarding their professional relationships. Picture: Gallo Images/Business Day/Martin Rhodes

SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane has denied any wrongdoing in the repayment of R70-million VAT owed to Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments‚ allegedly through a third party.

In a statement released on Friday‚ SARS described media reports about the payment as “malicious‚ disingenuous and part of the well-orchestrated agenda” to discredit him.

“This agenda includes the narrative which hinges on the predictable and unproven assumption that commissioner Moyane is corrupt‚ is a lackey of the Guptas and must be ‘fired’ from his job‚” SARS said.

But chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance Yunus Carrim said on Friday that even if SARS’ action regarding the Gupta payment was legal‚ it seems that the family received favourable treatment from the Revenue Service “given the delay in VAT returns when it comes to many other tax payers”.

“Presumably‚ the banks closed down the accounts of Gupta companies in terms of legislation that prevents them from servicing clients who have a case to answer for wrong-doing. Did SARS take that into account in making its decision‚ as the same legislation also has implications for them?” he questioned.

Carrim has referred the matter to Parliament’s legal services unit for advice.

The Daily Maverick reported on Friday that Moyane allegedly aided possible acts of money laundering and fraud while contravening the VAT and Tax Acts when he allegedly pressured SARS officials to illegally effect three VAT payments to the Guptas into the account of a third party‚ Terbium Financial Services.

It reported that within two weeks of Oakbay Investments director Ronica Ragavan’s first “urgent” on May 22 last year‚ SARS allegedly paid the first of three VAT payments amounting to R70-million. Two smaller VAT payments were pushed through in July and August 2017. This was unusual quick payment by SARS when compared to the time business have to wait for the VAT refunds.

SARS confirmed on Friday that on May 22 2017‚ Oakbay escalated their complaint to Moyane regarding the payment of a legitimate refund due to them. Such escalations of complaints were a frequent occurrence‚ it said.

Moyane did not instruct any SARS employee on how to deal with the matter – it was his office that simply forwarded the complaint “as received from Oakbay” to other SARS units‚ the Revenue Service said in its statement.

“The legal department‚ led by Ms Refiloe Mokoena‚ which compromises of experienced and well respected tax experts‚ had to provide a legal opinion whether or not the VAT Act allowed for the refund of the taxpayer to be paid into the Oakbay account or a third party account. Various views were exchanged among the legal experts in SARS and their leader Ms Mokoena‚ but never with the commissioner‚” the SARS statement read.

“Mr Moyane was copied in on the email exchanges that took place among these experts … but he never intervened in these email exchanges.”

- TimesLIVE

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