SARS commissioner, Tom Moyane has come in defence of his secrete “rogue unit”, he said it was formed basically to fish out traces of corruption festering around the nooks and crannies of the government bodies.
The leader of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) who wrote to the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan explaining his approval of his secrete unit which has been labelled his private “rogue unit” for which Gordhan is under investigation.
Moyane sent the letter on Tuesday, saying the new unit was tasked with “tax matters” and would investigate SARS staffers who were involved in criminal activities.
In the letter, Moyane said the South African Police Service had asked SARS to help its investigations on tax matters and where SARS officials were involved in criminal activities.
Moyane replied the letter by saying his unit would work with them and with the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks to “look at the involvement of SARS officials in criminal activities”.
“The SARS officials’ mandate is only in as far as it relates to SARS employees involved in alleged criminal activities and tax matters,” he said in the letter. He said the team operated in the SARS office and were targeting “criminal syndicates in SARS”.
He also maintained that the establishment of the unit -which bares a striking resemblance to the alleged “rogue unit”- was lawful and that it was aimed at targeting the illicit economy.
The new establishment was reported to be harassing its former boss, including the serving Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan and the former SARS officials who are under investigation by the Hawks over the establishment of an alleged “rogue unit” at the tax agency during his tenure as commissioner.
According to media report, SARS commissioner Tom Moyane authorized a secret unit to conduct undercover operations in the tobacco industry which has been involved in corrupt activities such as victimization of competitors of British American Tobacco.
Meanwhile, the National Treasury said on Tuesday that it was made aware of the unit through the media and that it would seek “clarification” on it.
Business Live reported that an internal SARS memorandum dated September 1 provides more detail of its work, indicating that it mirrored the “rogue unit”.
The memo, compiled by acting senior manager Yegan Mundie to SARS chief officer for enforcement Hlengani Mathebula, indicates that the new unit would require two vehicles, a safe house and a “secret cost centre” from which it should be funded to protect its members.
Ironically, these are among the allegations that led to the former unit members being described as “rogue”.
The new unit is probing corruption allegations against former SARS bosses, as well as some current staffers over the illicit tobacco industry.