Flash Briefing: Tito goes after taxis for tax; Melinda divorcing Bill after Epstein links revealed; Harmony Gold; Rand

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  • Plans are afoot by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) to address tax avoidance in the country’s minibus taxi industry, which only pays R5m in taxes in total, says MyBroadband.co.za. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said in a Parliamentary response that tax avoidance is across the tax ecosystem in general. In an effort to address this, the revenue collector is adopting a number of targeted interventions. The Minister said the interventions are aimed at achieving the SARS strategic intent of building a tax and customs system that is premised on voluntary compliance. SARS has a unit dedicated to improving compliance of SMMEs, taxi industry included.
  • South African miner Harmony Gold on Tuesday reported a jump in third-quarter core profit. Firmer bullion prices have helped miners’ profits soar.
  • The rand extended its rally on Tuesday. Its 30% gain against the dollar since the height of the pandemic has outstripped emerging-market peers – and the rally may not be over yet, says Bloomberg. South Africa’s currency has recovered all its losses since it slumped to a record in April last year, and then some. Strong commodity prices and the global search for yield should support the narrative for further gains in coming months. Domestic fiscal metrics – though still far from healthy – are improving along with terms of trade, while the government’s crackdown on corruption is also fuelling positive sentiment.
  • Senior employees at a unit of South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. have accused executives at the continent’s biggest fund manager of causing an “existential crisis” after a series of scandals over the past few years, says Bloomberg. Staff at the Isibaya Fund, which oversees unlisted assets at the $136bn PIC, submitted a list of complaints including a failure to renew a mandate with the division’s biggest client and allegations of general poor management, according to a nine-page letter to the company’s investment committee seen by Bloomberg.
  • New information has emerged about the divorce of the billionaire Gates couple. The philanthropist had discussions with lawyers in October 2019 around when the Microsoft co-founder’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein became public, says The Wall Street Journal. According to the documents reviewed by the Journal, Ms. Gates and her advisers held a number of calls in October 2019 when the New York Times reported that Mr. Gates had met with Mr. Epstein on numerous occasions. Mr. Gates once stayed late into the night at Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse, the Times reported. Mr. Epstein died in jail in August 2019 awaiting trial on federal charges related to sex trafficking. In early 2020, Mr. and Ms. Gates surprised many people when they said they wouldn’t attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual gathering of business and world leaders that the power couple had attended for years. A few months later, on March 13, Mr. Gates said he was resigning from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway. The Microsoft co-founder said he planned to focus more on his philanthropic efforts. By that time, the Gateses were already in discussions to divide their vast wealth.

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