SARS Enforcement and Customs Operations for March 2013
Pretoria, 5 April 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 March 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 March 2013:
- The arrest on 20 March of a fourth suspect in a case related to the defrauding of SARS via fraudulent VAT refund claims involving approximately R340 000. Three other suspects – one of whom was a SARS staff member – had already been arrested in November 2012. The disciplinary hearing of the SARS employee is scheduled for mid-April 2013, and the criminal case is set for 24 April in the Johannesburg Regional Court.
- The arrest on 8 March of a member of the public whose bank account had been used for the deposit of fraudulent tax refunds to the value of just under R450 000. He was arrested when he tried to make a withdrawal from his bank account, as SARS had notified the bank about the on-going investigation. He was released on R50 000 bail on 18 March.
- The arrest on 31 March at the Beit Bridge border post of a Zimbabwean national who had been working as a tax practitioner in South Africa. The practitioner is facing charges of fraud related to the filing of tax returns using false information, which resulted in incorrect refunds, and the changing of client bank details to her own. At least 36 people were affected.
- On 1 March, Ms Duduzile Nkabinde pleaded guilty in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court to charges of theft, having changed taxpayers bank account details so that their tax refunds were paid into her bank account. The case was postponed to 6 May for a verdict.
In the period from 1 to 31 March 2013, SARS Customs teams have:
- Prevented just over 90 kilos of narcotics (36.66kg cocaine and 53.85kg “tik” and ephedrine) valued at just under R27 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 21 different interventions, and included:
- 24kg “crystal meth”, valued at over R7 million, in the luggage of a female passenger arriving in Johannesburg on a flight from Mumbai via Nairobi. The drugs were concealed in cotton reels in her luggage.
20kg “crystal meth”, valued at R6 million, found in the luggage of a female passenger travelling from Doha to Maputo via Johannesburg. The drugs were concealed in handbags in her luggage.
- 12kg cocaine, valued at almost R3.5 million, concealed in the luggage of a female passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Dakar, via Johannesburg. The clothes in her luggage were found to have been soaked in liquid cocaine.
- 9.8kg “crystal meth”, valued at almost R3 million, found in the luggage of a female passenger travelling from Delhi to Johannesburg via Nairobi. The drugs were concealed in cotton reels in her luggage.
4kg cocaine, valued at just over R1 million, concealed in an ‘unused’ bodywrap in the luggage of a male passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg.
- The liquid equivalent of 3.62kg cocaine, valued at just under R1 million, found in 3 wine bottles. SARS Drug Detector Dog Caesar reacted to the bottles when the passenger was searched, and the liquid was confirmed to contain cocaine.
- 3kg cocaine, valued at R863 000, carried as a body wrap by a male passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg.
- 2.3kg cocaine, valued at R661 710, concealed in a laptop bag carried by a female passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg.
- Stopped 2392 “Viagra” tablets, valued at over R239 000, coming through the ports of entry (mainly sent in parcels from overseas to South African addresses).
- Detained 875 master cases and 688 cartons of cigarettes which were being smuggled into the country.
- The biggest seizure (with a value of R7 405 276) saw 775 Master Cases of illicit cigarettes being seized at a warehouse in Newcastle, KZN.
- Prevented the following from leaving the country:
- A total of 27 cellphones and 19 cellphone batteries (in 3 separate seizures) in parcels destined for Pakistan and Tanzania. All are suspected to be stolen, and were handed to the SAPS for further investigations.
- R219 000 in undeclared cash, found in two separate incidents on South African passengers bound for Dubai. The cash was detained for the Reserve Bank.
- A laptop in a parcel sent to Tanzania which may have been stolen. It has been handed over to the SAPS for investigation.
- Seized a number of other items coming into the country, including.
- 770 ampoules of liquid steroids and 4kg powder steroids, valued at almost R190 000
- 600 pornographic DVDs in a parcel sent from the USA to South Africa. They have been detained for the Film and Publication Board.
- 3 diamonds, with a total value of just over R58 000, sent from India to South Africa, have been detained for the Diamond Board.