SARS Enforcement and Customs Operations for July 2013
Pretoria, 5 August 2013 – 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 July 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 case can be reported for July 2013:
- On 1 July Mr Abel Mothoa was sentenced in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court to 5 years direct imprisonment for Income Tax fraud, and an additional 1 year for failing to register with SARS as a tax practitioner. He had pleaded guilty to the charges and SARS argued for a prison sentence as the most appropriate sanction. Mr Mothoa was arrested on 20 April 2012, having submitted tax refunds for 16 people in 2009 and 2010. He made fraudulent Medical Aid and RAF claims, and directed the resulting (fraudulent) refunds – to the value of R88 257 – into his own bank account.
- On 4 July, Mrs Ansie Naude (a former SARS employee), Mr Riaan Naude (her son) and Mr Adriaan Fourie were sentenced to 30 months suspended for 5 years (A Naude), R10000 fine or 12 months imprisonment as well as 12 months suspended for 5 years (R Naude) and 30 months suspended for 5 years (S Fourie). As previously reported, they were found guilty of fraud in the Roodepoort Regional Court on 24 April 2013.
- On 22 July Mr Imraan Khan pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and fraud. As he is considered to be terminally ill the sentence was 5 years direct imprisonment, wholly suspended for 5 years. A fraudulent tax return, worth R5.62 million, had been paid into Mr Khan’s bank account. SARS has already recovered R5.49 million and will aim to recover the remaining R123 687 via civil recovery proceedings.
- On 26 July Ms Thandi Phiri, a former SARS Customs Official, was sentenced to 4 years direct imprisonment and a further 3 years wholly suspended for 5 years, having been found guilty on 4 fraud charges and numerous contraventions of the Customs and Excise Act no 91 of 1964. She had participated in attempted VAT fraud by clearing 2 trucks leaving South Africa with a total value of R450 000 – although no such export had taken place. Ms Phiri had previously been dismissed by SARS after being found guilty in an internal disciplinary hearing which was later upheld by the CCMA.
- On 29 July the accused in a significant tax fraud case, Mr John Cecil Sigamoney, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court. He was sentenced to a fine of R300 000 or 5 years imprisonment of which R150 000 was suspended for a period of 5 years. No plea bargain was entered into. Mr Sigamoney had presented fraudulent VAT invoices to SARS, resulting in VAT refunds (worth just over R2.9 million) which were not lawfully due to him. It was further alleged that a former SARS employee had assisted by ensuring that the VAT refunds were processed without a proper audit being conducted. All monies were stopped at the bank and there was thus no loss to the fiscus. The former SARS employee has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and his case has been postponed to 21 and 22 August 2013 for the State to lead further witnesses. He had resigned from SARS in March 2008, immediately after his arrest on the fraud charges, and prior to an internal disciplinary process commencing.
In the period from 1 to 31 July 2013, SARS Customs teams have:
- Prevented just over 20 kilos of cocaine valued at almost R19 million, and almost 150 kilos of tik, valued at R42.6 million, 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 7 different interventions, and included:
- As previously reported, 149.6kg of Crystal Methamphetamine, also known as “Tik”, worth over R42.6 million. The seizure was made after two female passengers disembarking from a flight landing at OR Tambo and originating in Tanzania were identified for additional questioning and searches. The passengers were carrying 6 large black “holdall” bags, in each of which were additional plastic bags containing the powdered “Tik”. This is the largest single seizure of “Tik” by SARS Customs at a Port of Entry.
- As previously reported, 14kg of Cocaine in crystal form, worth almost R17 million. The drugs were found concealed in a bag of surgical equipment kits, being brought into the country by a female passenger on a long-distance bus travelling between Blantyre (Malawi) and Johannesburg.
- 2.8kg cocaine, valued at over R800 000, hidden in roll-on deodorant containers in the luggage of a male passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg.
- 1.1kg cocaine, valued at over R300 000, carried as bullets in the abdomen of a male passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg.
- Just over 1kg cocaine, valued at just under R R300 000, in the false compartment of a bag belonging to a male passenger travelling from Peru to Johannesburg via Sao Paulo.
- 1kg cocaine, valued at just over R280 000, in the luggage of a male passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg.
- Stopped 515 455 “male sexual enhancement” tablets, valued at over R38.5 million, coming through the ports of entry (mainly sent in parcels from India to South African addresses). This included one shipment of 500 000 tablets, (worth R37.5 million) sent from India, and another of 14 799 tablets (worth R1 109 925) sent from Hong Kong. All shipments were handed over to Health authorities at the port of entry for further investigations.
- Detained 788 master cases and 1853 cartons of cigarettes, with a total value of over R7.8 million which were being smuggled into the country.
- Two major seizures at the Groblersbrug border post with Botswana on 27 July saw 364 and 354 master cases respectively being brought into the country concealed in trucks loaded with mielies.
- Seized a number of other items coming into the country, including
- 3kg of gold pellets, valued at over R1.3 million, carried undeclared by a passenger crossing at Beit Bridge.
- A live turtle, carried by a passenger arriving in Johannesburg from Hong Kong.
- 14 Mozambican passports, concealed in a bus crossing at the Lebombo border post
- 1022kg empty copper ammunition casings, concealed under the floor of a bus crossing into South Africa from Zimbabwe at Beit Bridge.
- 3 rough diamonds, and 20g smaller diamonds, in two parcels from India to Johannesburg.
- Prevented the following from leaving the country:
- Ivory in a parcel from Johannesburg to China, via Durban. SARS Detector Dog “Chorky” reacted to a parcel at the mail centre and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife confirmed the contents to be ivory.
- A parcel from South Africa to Nigeria containing an undeclared laptop, which is thought to have been stolen. It has been handed over to the SAPS for further investigation.
- 0.19kg heroin, valued at over R38 000, in a parcel destined for Cape Verde after a SARS Detector Dog reacted to the parcel.