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Clearing agent in court for defrauding SARS and importers

Clearing agent in court for defrauding SARS and importers

03 August 2022 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) notes the appearance of a clearing agent and his co-accused at the Durban Commercial Crime Court on 28 July 2022, for a customs and excise related fraud matter. The two were charged with defrauding SARS and their clients of more than R2 million. The matter has been postponed to 20 October 2022.

Jayson Perumal (43) of Dynamic Freight and Reshlan Pillay (38) were charged with fraud and various contraventions of the Customs and Excise Act. Both accused are out on bail.

It is alleged that Reshlan Pillay, director of Potenza Capital, and a clearing agent, processed customs entries whilst working with Jayson Perumal of Dynamic Freight, who was acting on behalf of various importers.  Potenza Capital is alleged to have submitted false documents to SARS, where the values of the goods, the goods themselves and the importers details were falsified, resulting in minimal duties and VAT paid over to SARS.

SARS is aware of these types of fraud and wants to warn clearing agents that they will face the full might of the law when arrested.  At the same time, SARS also wishes to warn the public, especially importers, to be vigilant when contracting with clearing agents. They need to be aware of the correct duties and VAT that need to be paid, and ensure that those amounts have actually been paid to SARS. In terms of the Customs and Excise Act, the importer is ultimately liable for the duties and VAT payable to SARS.

Importers should demand proof of their payments to SARS, relating to any of their imports, from clearing agents. SARS has established that some clearing agents wilfully under declare the value of goods by as much as 90%, through falsifying importation documents. However, they are alleged to claim the correct duties and VAT from their clients, whilst paying SARS the minimum duties and VAT. The clearing agents then allegedly pocket the difference, thereby enabling the low rates for their services, whilst defrauding both SARS and the importer.

The importer is in fact prejudiced twice if SARS audits these transactions and levy the correct amount of VAT and duties which is payable by the importer.  SARS is concerned about the scope of this scam, as investigations into similar schemes to the value of millions of Rands are currently being investigated in Gauteng and in the Western Cape.

SARS Commissioner Mr Edward Kieswetter expressed his satisfaction “that SARS is living up to its strategic objective of making it hard and costly for those that chose to engage in criminality when dealing with SARS”. While the matter remains sub-judice and its merits are still to be determined, he further said that “it is critically important that all role players act prudently and honestly when dealing with SARS”.

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