The narrative that the South African Revenue Service (Sars) was withholding value added tax (VAT) refunds to bolster revenue target was false – since it was crime syndicates that illegally obtained funds of the state who were affecting tax revenue.
Nine people were arrested for VAT fraud scam, incurring a loss of close to R100 million.
The syndicate, which consisted of one woman, opened fraudulent company accounts to fictitiously submit VAT numbers, claims and refunds, Sars commissioner Tom Moyane said.
The gang, who operated in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, were arrested on Wednesday by members of the Directorate and Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) and appeared before both the Durban and Pretoria Specialised Commercial Court on Thursday.
They were granted bail between R20 000 and R100 000 each.
Speaking at a media briefing with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula in Pretoria yesterday, Moyane said the fraudulent activities started taking place in 2011, and by his appointment as commissioner in 2014, the syndicate had already defrauded R30.6 million.
The proceeds of the scam were deposited in bank accounts from where the money was allegedly laundered through at least 35 so-called suppliers.
But this affected the country’s fiscus, he said.
“There has been a narrative in the public domain that Sars is withholding VAT refunds in order to bolster its revenue. “But we are dealing with syndicates who actually have access to funds of the state. We have risk assessments on whether to pay you what is due to you. “It may take time, as Sars wants to have a full understanding that we are paying the right money to the right people.”
Mbalula reiterated that he would target the “untouchables” and “dark syndicates” under the organised crime threat assessment (Octa), where focus would be on fighting criminal modus operandi analysis.
“This is about tracking and dealing a blow to the source of crime – the kingpins, crime financiers and planners. These are the people who drive luxury cars and behave as though they are ordinary hard-working people. We are targeting these masqueraders head on, one by one. Their crimes are massive and through their criminality, hundreds of other crimes get committed,” Mbalula said.
The matter was postponed to February 15.