SARS Enforcement and Customs Operations for December 2013

 
Pretoria, 10 January 2014 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is providing an update to the media and the public on its operations to combat crimes such as smuggling, fraud and abuse of the tax system for the month of December 2013.

 
The aim is to inform the public about the work SARS’ Customs and Enforcement teams do on a daily basis, to provide an indication of the prevalence of tax and customs-related offences in South Africa, and to illustrate the support SARS provides to other law enforcement agencies.
 

Interventions to combat Fraud and Corruption
 
SARS will combat any form of corruption, fraud and abuse of the tax system. The following cases can be reported for December 2013:
 
 1. Mr Moabi Vennon Nkhi appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates Court on 9 December 2013. He is the accused in two different cases. In the first, he is accused of claiming fictitious expenses in order to receive a fraudulent income tax refund. Had the attempt been successful, the potential loss to the fiscus would have been over R40 000. In the second, he faces serious fraud charges after allegedly registering 200 individuals for SARS eFiling and claiming fictitious expenses on their behalf in order to receive fraudulent refunds.  The potential loss to the fiscus would have amounted to R30 million, of which R4 million was paid into bank accounts he allegedly created “on behalf of” those 200 taxpayers. The matter has been postponed to 17 January 2014 for bail argument and trial.

2. Mrs Susan Esther Nagel was found guilty on 20 charges of fraud in the Pretoria Regional Court on 11 December 2013. A former accountant, Mrs Nagel had submitted false VAT returns to SARS to the value of almost R270 000. She has a previous conviction for VAT Fraud and was sentenced to 10 years in jail, suspended for 5 years, in that matter. The matter was postponed to 10 March 2014 for sentencing. 

3. Ms Susan Matthyser, an accountant who allegedly submitted fraudulent VAT returns for a company resulting in a refund of almost R3 million, was arrested by the SAPS on 11 December 2013 and appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on 12 December 2013. She was released on bail. The sole member of the Close Corporation, Ms Minoli Chetty had been arrested on 21 November 2013 on charges of VAT fraud, and appeared before the Johannesburg Magistrate Court on 22 November. She was also released on bail. The case has been remanded to 27 February 2014.

4. 18 individuals (including 3 former SARS employees) appeared for judgement in the North Gauteng High Court on 19 December 2013 and were found guilty on a variety of charges including 2262 counts of tax fraud and charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). The syndicate had attempted to defraud SARS of more than R25 million over a period of 8 years – the actual loss to the fiscus is around R11 million.  The syndicate had offered jobs to unemployed people in return for copies of their ID books. These individuals were then “registered” for tax by the syndicate, and fraudulent IRP5 certificates produced, indicating that their “employers” had deducted excessive tax from their salaries. This resulted in fraudulent tax “refunds” being paid out. Of the 3 former SARS officials, 2 resigned (Mr Sydney Moyo and Mr Richard Bopape) and 1 was dismissed after a disciplinary hearing (Mrs Nomsombuko Moyo). Investigations were conducted jointly with a number of other law enforcement agencies. The syndicate will appear for sentencing on 19 May 2014, with 16 people being remanded in custody until that time. 

5. Mr Abdul Qayum Davids, allegedly the ringleader of a syndicate alleged to have claimed over R7.3 million in fraudulent VAT refunds, appeared in the Bellville Magistrate Court on 12 December 2013 for a bail hearing. He had been arrested in November 2013 with 5 associates. Bail had already been granted to Ms Murieda Matthews and Ms Nooria Mathews on 29 November and to Ms Nadia Mathews, Mr Mogamad Faizel and Mr Mogamad Tahir Davids on 3 December. Mr Abdul Qayum Davids’ bail hearing was postponed to 13 January 2014, and he will remain in custody until then.

 

Customs Interventions

In the period from 1 to 31 December 2013, SARS Customs and Enforcement teams have:

1. Prevented just over 85 kilos of cocaine (valued at just under R24.6 million), just over 15kg ephedrine / crystal methamphetamine (valued at over R4.6 million) and 1kg heroin (valued at just over R200 000)  from entering the country. In all cases, the drugs seized and the individuals involved were handed over to the SAPS for further action. The drugs were seized in a number of different interventions, and included:

a. As previously reported, 80kg cocaine, valued at over R23 million, seized at Beit Bridge border post.  The drugs were concealed in an “empty” truck attempting to enter South Africa from Zimbabwe – having started its trip in Malawi. After a full physical search, the team had found 100 A4 parcels weighting 800g, each containing smaller packages of a white powder. SARS Customs Detector Dog “Falco” was called in and reacted positively for narcotics. This is the single biggest seizure of cocaine ever at Beit Bridge.

b. 13kg Ephedrine, valued at R3.9 million, found concealed in a courier parcel from India to Johannesburg, which had been declared as “lace pieces”.

c. Over 5.4kg cocaine, valued at over R1.5 million, found in a courier shipment at Cape Town International, hidden in vacuum flasks.

d. Almost 1.4kg ephedrine, valued at R408 000 and 1kg heroin, valued at over R200 000, found in a parcel from India at the OR Tambo Mail Centre. 3 individuals attempted to collect the parcel, but had no invoice or other documentation. When the parcel was checked it contained 11 pairs of shoes and smelled strongly of glue. The shoes were inspected and the drugs were found concealed in the soles. The 3 were arrested by the SAPS.

e. 1kg crystal methamphetamine, valued at R300 000, found in a parcel from India at the OR Tambo Mail Centre. When 2 individuals arrived to collect the parcel (declared as “foodstuff”) it was inspected and found to contain 2 foil-wrapped packages of drugs. The 2 were arrested by the SAPS.

f. 50g Crystal Methamphetamine, valued at R15 000, found in a parcel from Germany arriving at the Cape Town International Mail Centre – identified by SARS Detector Dog “Phantom”.

 

2. Detained 1 Master Case and 2048 Cartons of illicit cigarettes (brands including Pall Mall and GT), with a total value of over R400 000 which were being smuggled into the country.

3. Seized a number of other items coming into the country, including

a. 143 marijuana seeds, valued at R14 300, mainly sent in parcels from the United Kingdom

b. 14kg dagga, valued at over R21 000, found at the Quachas Nek border post in a truck crossing into South Africa from Lesotho.

c. 248 male sexual enhancement tablets, valued at almost R25 000.

 

4. Prevented the following from leaving the country:

a. 66kg dagga, valued at over R240 000 – mostly in parcels destined for the UK, but also 41kg found in a truck entering Namibia at the Vioolsdrift border post.

b. 6 cellphones, all suspected stolen, in parcels bound for Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana.

c. R4000 in R100 notes, concealed in a parcel bound for Mozambique. They were detained for Reserve Bank procedures.

d. Several thousand Zimbabwe dollar notes (10 thousand Zim$500 mil notes and 1 thousand Zim$100 mil notes) in a parcel bound for the UK. They were detained for Reserve Bank procedures.