Legal opinion wants SARS worker charged for Gupta VAT refund

Legal opinion wants SARS worker charged for Gupta VAT refund

An investigation into the conduct of Refiloe Mokoena, suspended legal head of SARS, has resulted in the legal opinion that she should face formal charges. Mokoena had allegedly been involved in the unlawful VAT refunds claimed by the Guptas.

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Fluxmans law firm has concluded their investigation into Refiloe Mokoena's conduct and has recommended that the SARS legal head face prosecution.

In September 2018, Mokoena had been suspended for her involvement in R420 million worth of VAT refunds paid to a series of third parties, including a pay agent and a shelf company, according to News24.

The investigation has established that Mokoena had approved the payments despite SARS executives advising against it.

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Mokoena had reportedly argued that she only became involved with the payments for a short period in May 2017 and had denied issuing instructions at any stage. The legal head had argued that she would not do this as "the issue of value added tax was not within my purview".

READ ALSO: Sars investigates after allegations of R400 million in VAT to Gupta-linked companies

Nevertheless, the law firm wants her held responsible, commenting that:

"It is in our view significant that Ms Mokoena, on numerous occasions contends that the issue of VAT refunds was not within her 'purview' or domain, yet for whatever reason… she only a few days after taking up her appointment at SARS assumed and maintained an active role in ensuring that the refund in question was effected."

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Mokoena had previously been employed by state-owned Denel while it had attempted to enter into a joint venture with VR Laser, a Gupta-owned company. She had been hired to serve on the board during Tom Moyane's tenure as commissioner.

SARS had previously admitted that the VAT refunds had been illegal, in violation of laws prohibiting payments to third parties to prevent fraud:

"The possibility that governance processes, which include standard operating procedures, have failed and the reasons for the failure, is part of our overall review referenced earlier."

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