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Durban – Controversial Cape Town businessman Mark Lifman says he fully co-operated with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in all respects as required by law.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Lifman said he has never concealed anything from SARS.
“SARS and I have been engaged in a dispute for some time now. I have always fully co-operated with SARS in all respects as required by law. I voluntarily offered my immovable assets to be secured in favour of SARS. I was under no obligation to do so, but did so as a sign of good faith and at my own peril,” said Lifman.
City Press reported on Sunday that Lifman, who is reportedly one of South Africa’s biggest underworld bosses, was handed a tax bill of R388m.
He also reportedly hoped to get help in his tax battle, with SARS commissioner Tom Moyane allegedly approached to go easy on Lifman because of his political connections.
SARS spokesperson Luther Lebelo declined to comment to City Press on the approach allegedly made to Moyane, reportedly saying: “You will appreciate that it will be impossible, if not unfair, for SARS to comment on conversations, private or business, the commissioner of SARS has with people.”
According to City Press, Lifman is one of Cape Town’s richest and most feared underworld figures and a known associate of alleged druglord and Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen.
“I have always indicated my willingness to co-operate with SARS in such event that my tax affairs were found wanting. The nature and extent of my business interests are complex and I have at all times relied on experts and specialist advice insofar as it came to the management of my financial affairs,” Lifman said.
“I have always stated the position that should it be found that certain taxes are due to SARS on my side, it should not be attributed to me having intended to evade tax.”
In Lifman’s view, South Africa’s tax system was complex and difficult to negotiate.
“I am taking legal advice as to what legalities and what actions (concerning the SARS actions) remain undeveloped in law. As is the right of any citizen in South Africa and where applicable, I intend to approach the appropriate courts with the view to ensure that clear and unambiguous guidelines are defined by the courts in such matters.
“The current actions by SARS against me are demonstrating the serious effects that these powers can have on a taxpayer’s ability to continue to remain economically active. As things stand now, SARS has affected my ability to generate income and future growth and if these actions were to continue, they will ultimately destroy all future such prospects.”
He added: “I furthermore wish to state that for some years now, much has been published about my so-called ‘notoriety’ and alleged association with politicians, criminals and the ‘underworld’.”
“These rumours and speculations will no doubt continue and escalate in the wake of these events. In this regard I wish to emphasise the fact that in South Africa, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around. I would urge people to respect this principle. I deny that I am a ‘gangster’ or ‘organised criminal’ with the contempt it deserves.”
Lifman believes that he is a “victim of disingenuous and malicious rumours for some time now”.
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