SARS and the Criminal Justice System

When enforcing tax and customs legislation, SARS plays a particular role within the Criminal Justice System.  SARS is empowered through its legislation to conduct criminal investigation into tax offences.  Once the criminal investigation of the alleged tax offence is finalised, the matter is referred to the South African Police Service to give effect to entering the Criminal Justice System.  The evidence collected is presented to the National Prosecuting Authority to make a determination on whether the entity should be charged with a crime and prosecuted.  SARS is cautious in its actions not to be the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge at the same time.

Furthermore, SARS has a role in administering laws that are not necessarily related to tax and customs but are essential to protect the South African economy. For example, Customs must prevent harmful goods from entering South Africa such as alien species which may endanger our natural resources or South African residents.

For these reasons, SARS supports other government agencies in the investigation of money laundering and corruption activities. We are active participants in the Multi-Agency Working Group (MAWG) and the Anti-Corruption Task Team that are charged with combating corruption in government. Working through these forums has enabled SARS to confront complex international schemes that we could not have achieved on our own.

There are also laws such as the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), and Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA), Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, which oblige us to support the Police and the Financial Intelligence Centre and other agencies in criminal investigations.

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