Moy­ane ‘hatchet man’ mum

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - DON MAKATILE

IT SEEMS the Nu­gent com­mis­sion of in­quiry to probe tax ad­min­is­tra­tion and gov­er­nance at Sars faces an up­hill bat­tle in its quest to have those al­leged to have aided and abet­ted sus­pended com­mis­sioner Tom Moy­ane at the rev­enue col­lec­tion agency shed light on a bat­tery of charges of malfea­sance.

Largely re­garded as Moy­ane’s hatchet man, se­nior ex­ec­u­tive re­spon­si­ble for em­ployee re­la­tions Luther Le­belo failed to as­sist the com­mis­sion get a grip on the rot at Sars while Moy­ane was at the helm.

The com­mis­sion, es­tab­lished by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, is tasked with look­ing at a range of il­le­gal prac­tices dur­ing Moy­ane’s four-year term un­til his sus­pen­sion in March this year.

Le­belo either for­got or had no rec­ol­lec­tion of trans­ac­tions or ac­tions where he was of­ten di­rectly in­volved.

“I don’t know.” Le­belo said this many times dur­ing his tes­ti­mony on Thurs­day.

He was on the stand from the open­ing of pro­ceed­ings un­til he com­plained of fa­tigue later in the af­ter­noon.

Moy­ane had been in the habit of seek­ing le­gal opin­ion, Judge Robert Nu­gent and his three as­ses­sors heard.

In an in­voice dated May 31, 2017, for opin­ion on pow­ers of the com­mis­sioner, where Le­belo is ref­er­enced, he pro­cessed pay­ment even when it ap­peared to him that this was purely a per­sonal mat­ter of Moy­ane.

The in­voice re­lated to two jobs, one of which was an in­struc­tion for the lawyers to read the book The Ma­puto Con­nec­tion, in which there were al­le­ga­tions against the com­mis­sioner.

These were about Moy­ane, be­fore he was head of Sars.

Le­belo told the com­mis­sion that “the com­mis­sioner can call the lawyers and say give me an opin­ion on this or that. Once they tell us that the work has been done, we con­tinue with the pay­ment. We don’t in­ter­ro­gate. Ours is to as­cer­tain if the work is done.”

The com­mis­sion begged to know, to no avail, if this as­pect of the in­voice re­lated to an em­ployee re­la­tions mat­ter.

Le­belo said: “The big­gest ver­i­fi­ca­tion is whether the work was done. If the com­mis­sioner says we must pay from our bud­get, we do. A lot of them were done like that. They af­fected our bud­get.

“As much as we re­spected what they do, as much as we re­spected the pow­ers they have.”

He said there used to be a grey area. There was no clar­ity on who paid what from which bud­get. There was now a new sys­tem which was cen­tralised.

“It will solve all these prob­lems,” Le­belo said.

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