D-Day: SARS execs Pillay and Richer to fight suspensions in court

An extraordinary story of allegations and counter-claims will be heard in the Labour Court today when two of the most senior executives at the SA Revenue Services fight their suspensions by a new politically appointed boss. Wild stories of abuse by SARS officials began when the Sunday Times reported in November the national tax collection agency had, inter alia, been running a brothel. That provided a pretext for the attempted purge of an executive team much admired under its former leader and subsequent Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The court is sure to provide long awaited clarity. UPDATE: SARS settled with Richer before the court hearing began, agreed to lift the suspension and will pay all the costs of the application. – AH

From the SA Press Association:

SARS-Biznews.comSars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and strategic planner Peter Richer are expected to contest their suspensions in the Johannesburg Labour Court today.

On December 5, SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane announced the pair’s suspension.

This followed the appointment by Pillay of a panel to investigate allegations about a special projects unit and its alleged illegal activities at SARS.

On Sunday, City Press reported that when Pillay read about the costs of upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, he commissioned legal advice on the tax implications.

The advice he received was that such benefits attract tax, even if a property was built on communal trust land, as was the case with Nkandla.

According to the report, Pillay read about the sprawl of businesses and trusts linked to the first family and told Zuma they needed to be made tax compliant.

On Friday the Mail & Guardian reported that a factor that led to Pillay’s suspension was his refusal to let a consignment of African National Congress T-shirts, imported from China, be released by customs without duty being paid.

Sars has been at the centre of reports over the last few weeks about an allegedly rogue intelligence unit set up in 2007.

Previously, the Sunday Times reported allegations that the unit had been involved in setting up a brothel in Durban as a cover for officials working from home, had spied on a wide range of people, including taxi hitmen, druglords, cigarette and abalone smugglers, Sars officials and politicians, and that some Sars officials were infiltrated into the ANC as bodyguards. – SAPA