South African Revenue Service Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has welcomed the three-year direct imprisonment sentences handed to two former Sars auditors in Durban last week.
La Mercy resident Pranesh Maharaj and Reuben Moodley from Newlands West were in March last year caught red-handed with a cash bribe of R100,000 in their possession during a police operation.
“The two auditors acknowledged that they had issued a notice to a well-known KwaZulu-Natal businessman in February 2018, advising him of an imminent audit of companies where he was a director. During a follow-up meeting, they solicited a bribe of R200,000 from him to ‘make his tax problems disappear’,” Sars said in a statement.
Later the same day, Maharaj contacted the businessman, asking for an advance payment of R10,000, which was duly paid.
“The businessman, however, reported the matter to the police. A decision was taken to set up a police trap in terms of section 252A of the Criminal Procedures Act. The businessman provided the cash, which was divided into two envelopes, each containing R100,000,” read the statement.
The police pounced on the accused as they were walking away after the businessman handed them the envelopes in the parking lot of the Standard Bank, Kingsmead Branch, on 2 March 2018.
The Durban Regional Court also sentenced the two auditors an additional two years imprisonment, conditionally suspended for five years. Maharaj offered to repay the R10,000 that was paid to him by the taxpayer.
“Both employees resigned during a Sars disciplinary process on in August 2018,” Sars said.
Welcoming the sentence, Kieswetter said there is no place for dishonest employees at Sars.
“We have zero tolerance for dishonesty and unlawfulness. As we forge ahead on a path of restoring a culture of integrity and service excellence in our institution, we would like to assure citizens that Sars will take harsh measures against employees who betray public trust,” he said.