Sars appoints law firm to investigate Makwakwa allegations

The South African Revenue Service (SARS)‚ which has suspended its second-in-charge‚ Jonas Makwakwa‚ over allegedly suspicious and unusual payments into his accounts‚ has appointed a law firm to investigate the allegations against him — and lashed out at the Financial Intelligence Centre.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that Makwakwa‚ SARS chief officer for business and individual taxes‚ had received “unexplained” cash deposits and banktransfers amounting to R1.2m between 2010 and 2016. Deposits of R450‚200 were also made into his girlfriend’s bank account — also a SARS employee — in December 2015‚ it was noted in the report.

On Friday statement‚ the revenue service confirmed Makwakwa had been suspended on Thursday and stated: “SARS will follow due process to investigate these serious allegations“.

“SARS has appointed an independent and reputable international law firm‚ Hogan Lowels‚ to investigate the matter.”

The revenue service statement accused the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) of a “lack of co-operation“.

The statement read: “SARS has noted recent media reports regarding Chief Officer: Business and Individual Tax‚ Mr. Jonas Makwakwa and Ms. Kelly-Ann Elskie on allegations about amounts of money deposited into their personal bank accounts.

“Since the receipt of the report‚ Commissioner Moyane has been engaging the Director of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) with regard to FIC’s legislative mandate to assist‚ advise and guide SARS‚ in respect to the investigation into the published allegations against Makwakwa and Kelly-Ann Elskie.

“The lack of co-operation by the FIC was raised by Commissioner Moyane at a briefing meeting with the Minister of Finance‚ Pravin Gordhan on Monday‚ 12 September 2016. The FIC reports directly to the Minister of Finance.”

SARS further stated: ““The Commissioner provided detailed information on the sequence of events on the matter to the Minister.”

Meanwhile‚ following the suspension of Makwakwa‚ SARS said Commissioner Moyane has appointed Firdous Sallie as the Acting the Chief Officer for Business and Individual Tax (BAIT)‚ while Tau Mashigo will serve as Acting Chief Officer: Digital Information Services and Technology (DIST).

The appointments are with immediate effect.

“Ms Sallie and Mr Mashigo have a wealth of experience and expertise in their respective fields.

“Ms Sallie has been at SARS since 2009 having served as Group Executive: Contact Centre Operations and then moving on to Group Executive: Direct Channels. Ms Sallie has been instrumental in SARS’ interface with taxpayers and is a key member of the BAIT leadership team.

“Mr Mashigo joined SARS in 2007‚ has previously served SARS as Group Executive: Chief Information Officer and was responsible for managing information technology. His role has recently been re-configured to Group Executive: Service Delivery‚ supporting a user base of over 14‚000 employees using a vast portfolio of applications currently enabling the administration of tax and customs.”