The Star Early Edition

Sars un­der fire for threat to sue pub­lisher of damn­ing book on JZ

- Ka­belo Khu­malo

THE SA Rev­enue Ser­vices (Sars) came un­der heavy crit­i­cism at the week­end af­ter it threat­ened le­gal ac­tion against the pub­lish­ers of Jac­ques Pauw’s book

The Pres­i­dent’s Keep­ers and a Sun­day news­pa­per for what it termed “breach of con­fi­den­tial­ity of tax­payer in­for­ma­tion”.

In a strongly-worded state­ment on Fri­day, the Rev­enue Ser­vices said it was deeply con­cerned about the pub­li­ca­tion of con­fi­den­tial tax­payer in­for­ma­tion in con­tra­ven­tion of Chap­ter 6 of the Tax Ad­min­is­tra­tion Act (TAA) 28 of 2011.

It said it was mostly con­cerned with Sec­tion 69 which pro­hibits the dis­clo­sure of tax­payer in­for­ma­tion by a Sars of­fi­cial or former Sars of­fi­cial.

“Sars is duty-bound to ad­dress the vi­o­la­tion of the TAA by Mr Jac­ques Pauw and the un­sub­stan­ti­ated al­le­ga­tion that Com­mis­sioner Tom Moy­ane is aid­ing Pres­i­dent Zuma to avoid his tax obli­ga­tions.

“The premise of the piece hinges on the pre­dictable nar­ra­tive that the or­gan­i­sa­tion can­not ful­fil its man­date since the ap­point­ment of Com­mis­sioner Moy­ane be­cause he is al­legedly us­ing his po­si­tion to pro­tect the pres­i­dent,” Sars said.

Pauw’s book al­leges that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma re­ceived monthly pay­ments of R1 mil­lion from Roy Mood­ley in 2009 when he al­ready was pres­i­dent, with­out declar­ing it to Sars among other al­leged tax dis­cre­tions.

Save South Africa said if Sars was truly con­cerned about tax com­pli­ance, it should be in­ves­ti­gat­ing the de­tails of Zuma’s tax eva­sion con­tained in Pauw’s book.

“It has not es­caped us, how­ever, that Sars has in­ad­ver­tently con­firmed the ve­rac­ity of Pauw’s in­for­ma­tion by threat­en­ing to act against him,” the or­gan­i­sa­tion said. “Why else would they threaten to pros­e­cute the pub­lisher of tax in­for­ma­tion if that in­for­ma­tion is not, in fact, au­then­tic?”

The Rev­enue Ser­vices has in re­cent times not shied away from tak­ing on firms that it sees as “por­tray­ing its lead­er­ship in a neg­a­tive light”.

In Septem­ber, Sars com­mis­sioner Tom Moy­ane said Sars would in­sti­tute le­gal pro­ceed­ings against KPMG for rep­u­ta­tional da­m­age to Sars, in­clud­ing, but not lim­ited to a civil claim.

“Sars sees KPMG’s con­duct as noth­ing but a dis­mal at­tempt to por­tray Sars, its lead­er­ship, and in par­tic­u­lar the Sars com­mis­sioner as in­com­pe­tent, cor­rupt, in­ef­fi­cient and in­volved in a witch-hunt,” Moy­ane had charged.

He also said Sars would re­port KPMG to the min­is­ter of fi­nance to con­sider stop­ping all work cur­rently per­formed by KPMG in other de­part­ments as well as any work in the pipe­line un­til all the work KPMG con­ducted for the state had been in­ves­ti­gated and re­viewed for qual­ity and proper au­dit­ing qual­ity and ex­pected stan­dards.

His sharp re­buke of KPMG fol­lowed KPMG’s ad­mis­sion that it had failed to apply its own risk man­age­ment and qual­ity con­trols and that part of the Sars re­port into the “spy rogue unit” which refers to con­clu­sions, rec­om­men­da­tions and le­gal opin­ions should no longer be re­lied upon.

Cor­rup­tion Watch said the pub­lisher of the book should stand firm against threats of lit­i­ga­tion.

“The at­tempts by the State Se­cu­rity Agency and Sars to clamp down on free­dom of speech, and their threats to go to court to pre­vent fur­ther dis­tri­bu­tion, printing or pub­lish­ing of the book, sug­gest that both par­ties are pre­pared to go to great lengths to en­sure that the pres­i­dent con­tin­ues to act with im­punity and is not held ac­count­able,” Cor­rup­tion Watch said.

 ?? PHOTO: OUPA MOKOENA ?? The Sars HQ in Pre­to­ria. Sars has been slammed for threat­en­ing to sue a book pub­lisher.
PHOTO: OUPA MOKOENA The Sars HQ in Pre­to­ria. Sars has been slammed for threat­en­ing to sue a book pub­lisher.

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