Huang em­pire gets Zuma’s back­ing

The Witness - Wheels - - NEWS - PAULI VAN WYK

A BUSI­NESS­MAN who al­legedly owes the Re­ceiver at least R1,8 bil­lion may yet get off with­out pay­ing a cent af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma per­son­ally stepped in.

Jen Chih “Robert” Huang and his wife Shou Fang and four com­pa­nies in which the cou­ple are di­rec­tors or con­nected with, owe the South African Rev­enue Ser­vice ( SARS) an ini­tial es­ti­mate of R540 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers in a legal battle be­tween SARS and the Huangs.

SARS au­dited the cou­ple’s in­come be­tween 2008 and 2013.

One of their com­pa­nies is Mpisi Trad­ing 74, a clear­ing agent that was in­volved in im­port­ing and do­nat­ing 181 300 T- shirts to the ANC be­fore the na­tional elec­tions. Many of the T- shirts fea­tured Zuma’s face and ANC slo­gans.

The T- shirts were seized by SARS, and when Mpisi said they were a do­na­tion to the ANC, the act­ing deputy com­mis­sioner Ivan Pil­lay in­sisted the com­pany pay cus­toms tax. He has since been out in the cold.

SARS au­di­tors also dis­cov­ered four com­pa­nies — dubbed the Razi en­ti­ties — which to­gether owe the Re­ceiver a fur­ther R541 mil­lion, said SARS se­nior manager Pi­eter En­gel­brecht in a state­ment that has been sub­mit­ted to the Pre­to­ria high court.

The probe forms part of a gi­ant tax au­dit on the Huang cou­ple, which may yet dwarf even the Dave King au­dit. King even­tu­ally paid R700 mil­lion to SARS.

A source said Huang has also made a string of con­fes­sions that will in­crease his tax­able in­come markedly.

There are now how­ever fears that the Haung au­dit will be shelved af­ter Zuma al­legedly in­ter­vened per­son­ally to ask the new tax com­mis­sioner for a “set­tle­ment out­side the tax au­dit”.

Although the pres­i­dency has ac­knowl­edged ques­tions on this al­le­ga­tion, it has not re­sponded to Beeld af­ter two work­ing days.

SARS did not want to com­ment on “tax­payer mat­ters”.

On De­cem­ber 5, the head of tax and cus­toms in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Gene Ravele, re­port­edly missed a com­pul­sory high- level meet­ing and was sum­moned by a mes­sen­ger.

The source said “Ravele sent back a mes­sage he was busy sorting out the Mpisi case as was ur­gently re­quested by the pres­i­dent”.

Ravele was then ex­cused from the meet­ing.

Huang and Zuma’s fam­ily have long main­tained close busi­ness re­la­tions. Zuma’s nephew Khu­lubuse Zuma is a for­mer chair­per­son of Mpisi and Huang has bro­kered sev­eral deals be­tween Khu­lubuse and Chi­nese com­pa­nies, the Mail & Guardian re­ported.

SARS had been work­ing on the Haung au­dit for years and En­gel­brecht said in his state­ment to the court the cou­ple had set up eight com­pa­nies with a mul­ti­tude of bank ac­counts to evade tax and laun­der money to send “very large amounts” out of the coun­try.

An anal­y­sis of the Huang em­pire found that just Mpisi had over 26 bank ac­counts at sev­eral fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, SARS manager Lo­raine van Esch said in a sec­ond state­ment.

The court pa­pers only men­tioned the four Razi en­ti­ties — which were used for ex­ten­sive money laun­der­ing ac­cord­ing to SARS. Van Esch said the rev­enue ser­vice had iden­ti­fied many more en­ti­ties of this type in the Haugn em­pire.

SARS’s court doc­u­ments form part of an im­pugned ex parte ap­pli­ca­tion in which SARS suc­cess­fully ap­plied for a search and seizure war­rant with­out the Huangs’ knowl­edge.

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