Johannesburg – Senior South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials, who understand the masterminds of the alleged collapse of the tax authorities, have been given the opportunity to enter secret in & # 39; to testify.
This was the guarantee given last week by Judge Robert Nugent, the chairman of the Nugent Commission of Enquiring, charged with investigating tax administration and administration at SARS during the term of office of suspended Commissioner Tom Moyane, which started in September 2014.
The offer came because the committee is expected to hear a testimony from Bain Consulting Agency and the National Treasury this week. Bain has to prove his alleged role in restructuring Sars' operations after Moyane came to the helm.
However, the committee has already heard that Moyane and his team allegedly rejected all Bain's recommendations and introduced a new business model in Sars, of which & quot; mastermind & # 39; still a mystery is before the judge and the committee.
Judge Nugent made the offer to hear "testimonies behind closed doors" after potential witnesses expressed fear of "paying the ultimate price".
"They were reluctant to come and testify to the committee, I am now considering some of their testimonies with the camera, and they told me they are afraid of the consequences when they testify," he said.
The judge indicated earlier in the procedure that if they would agree to testify, their identity would be protected and the media would not be allowed to take their photos.
Prosecutor-protagonist Carol Steinberg confirmed the predicament of the committee, adding that some witnesses, who made sworn statements to her team, did so on condition that their identity would be remembered. Because of the severity of the threats, Steinberg informed the committee that some sworn statements from witnesses would not be uploaded to the research website.
Since the June hearings began, the Committee has heard incriminating evidence of how Moyane's arrival resulted in the alleged dismantling of important institutions in Sars, such as the Large Business Center (LBC) in October 2015.
The LBC was established in 2010 to ensure that large companies in the country complied with tax legislation. The center collected more than 30% of the turnover.
Former head of the LBC Sunita Manik testified in June that she resigned in February 2016 after Moyane and then Sars chief operating officer Jonas Makwakwa began to interfere in her work.
Moyane and Makwakwa have reportedly signed a settlement agreement with one of the owners of a multinational that owes millions to Sars. "They closed the deal with one of the owners, and the settlement agreement was then referred to the LBC settlement committee, which rejected the deal, and the committee felt that the agreement did not make any sense," Manik said.
She testified that the LBC had robust governance systems that nobody allowed to have contact with the network of taxpayers.
In her testimony, Manik stressed that Moyane and Makwakwa wanted to commit "fraud" by targeting companies that had a lot of "money".
Last week, the committee heard how enforcement units that had the task of conducting research into international and local syndicates involved in the illegal economy, including trafficking in drugs, seals, cigarettes and clothing, were also dismantled. The committee heard that the new Sars operational model that was implemented in October 2015 canceled out these units.
According to evidence for the commission, Sars officials were diverted from collecting income from large companies to focusing on small businesses.
Narcizio Makwakwa, former executive head of small companies, testified that his team had been commissioned to pursue more than 2.5 million small businesses that are reportedly in default in the tax area.
"I did not believe it, which is why I gathered a group of researchers in my team to investigate the claim, and our findings were that more than 70% of small businesses paid taxes," he said.
Makwakwa, who is not related to Jonas Makwakwa, confirmed that less than 30% of small businesses do not comply with tax legislation, mostly foreign traders.