AfriForum today urgently requested Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the Public Protector (PP), to intervene in the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) treatment of the Gupta family’s tax matters before the Guptas withdrew their assets completely from the country and it was no longer possible to take them to task over possible tax evasion.
This urgent complaint arises from news that roughly R33 billion was withdrawn from the country in the form of a digital monetary unit and because it seems if the Guptas are in the process of withdrawing their assets from South Africa. Although it is rumoured that the information on the R33 billion is the result of a glitch on the digital monetary unit, there is reason to believe that this withdrawal can be linked to the Guptas.
At the same time, it seems as if the Guptas acted fraudulently with regard to their personal tax declarations to SARS. Moreover, information from the so-called Gupta Leaks creates the impression that they are being protected by people from within SARS.
It seems from recent media reports that the Gupta brothers declared to SARS that their annual income had amounted to R1 million each – this while former Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan estimated that the total amount that could be connected to state capture amounted to roughly R100 billion.
It now turns out from the Gupta Leaks that the Gupta family was warned confidentially by a source close to President Jacob Zuma that SAID had undertaken a massive investigation into the Guptas’ money affairs. These would have included lifestyle audits to shed more light on the Guptas’ seemingly fraudulent declarations regarding their personal income tax. Various attempts from within SARS have been made to investigate the Guptas. Yet it seems that these attempts always came to a very quick end, especially after President Zuma’s long-time ally Tom Moyane was appointed SARS Commissioner. Soon after his appointment, Moyane dismissed the Gupta Leaks as fake news. Anonymous sources from within SARS also indicated that SARS treated the Guptas with kid gloves and that the family was being protected from within SARS.
Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, explains that, if it is true that the Guptas pulled the wool over SARS’s eyes in terms of their personal income tax and that the Guptas are indeed busy withdrawing their assets from South Africa, there is very little time left for SARS to intervene and prevent the Guptas from taking their loot with them upon leaving the country.
“It seems, however, that SARS has a careless attitude towards the Guptas, which may possibly constitute maladministration. It therefore falls completely within the PP’s mandate to urgently intervene. It is a golden opportunity for the new PP to prove her own impartiality, as well as that of her office.”
The withdrawal of Gupta assets from South Africa includes the selling of the Gupta-controlled media firm ANN7 and the online newspaper The New Age for an amount of R450 million to a company operated by Mzwanele Manyi, as well as the selling of the Tegeta Mine by the Gupta-controlled Oakbay Investments to a Swiss company for an amount of R2,97 billion.