JOHANNESBURG, November 28 – South African Revenue Services (Sars) Commissioner Tom Moyane on Monday, set the record straight and addressed the “blatant misrepresentation of facts” regarding Jonas Makwakwa’s reappointment as chief officer for business and individual taxes.
“Sars finds it necessary to address the unsubstantiated tone and the blatant misrepresentation of facts. In fact, this is a predictable and monotonous media narrative that is aimed at casting aspersions on the integrity of the organisation,” Moyane said.
“It will be appreciated for reportage and analysis to be balanced, fair and accurate. While Sars supports media freedom, we cannot allow such low standards of journalism to go unchallenged and wish to set the record straight.”
Moyane said that Sars noted with “deep concern” media reports “spreading the allegation that there has been impropriety” on his part in dealing with the disciplinary investigation into Makwakwa.
Makwakwa, who is widely believed to be Moyane’s number two, was reinstated on November 1, after serving a year’s suspension after the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) flagged several suspicious payments into his bank account and that of another Sars employee, Kelly-Anne Elskie.
Makwakwa was suspended last year, after the FIC submitted a report to Sars containing some serious allegations against Makwakwa regarding how large amounts of money ended up in his bank account.
Sars then sought an outside legal opinion on the matter after Moyane took the decision to suspend Makwakwa pending an independent investigation into the allegations.
International law firm, Hogan Lovells, was appointed to investigate the matter. Hogan Lovells submitted an investigation report which recommended that disciplinary action be taken against Makwakwa.
On Monday, Moyane said that it was not true that Hogan Lovells did not investigate the FIC suspicious transactions, neither did the firm release a media statement.
“All transactions as per the FIC suspicious report were put to Mr Makwakwa to respond and he did. It was those responses which lead to Hogan Lovells concluding that an act of misconduct could not be found from the transactions and their sources,” the Sars boss said.
He said that after seeking advice, Makwakwa was placed on precautionary suspension on September 15, 2016, to investigate whether or not any possible misconduct may have been committed by Makwakwa relating to the FIC report.
Hogan Lovells was appointed to investigate whether any misconduct had been committed by Makwakwa and/or Ms Elskie in their capacity as Sars employees, he said.
Moyane said that on January 13, while Makwakwa was suspended he committed what “Sars believed to be a breach of his suspension conditions” when he made a phone call to another Sars employee regarding an active tax matter.
Makwakwa, was served with disciplinary charges on January 20, whilst the main investigation were still ongoing and whilst he was on suspension. The disciplinary charges related solely to this breach of his suspension conditions, Moyane said.
“Hogan Lovells concluded its investigation based on the mandate stated above and delivered an investigation report to Mr Moyane in June 2017. The Hogan Lovells report concluded that there was no prima facie evidence that Mr Makwakwa had committed any misconduct in relation to the financial transactions emanating from the FIC report,” he said.
“However, the recommendation was that Mr Makwakwa be charged for violating the Sars Conflict of Interest disclosure provisions as well as the Sars Code of Conduct. A decision was then taken to expand the existing charges already served on Mr Makwakwa in January 2017 to include charges relating to the allegation of non-disclosure.”
Moyane appointed Advocate Terry Motau, SC, to chair the disciplinary enquiry with the guidance and assistance of Hogan Lovells, which concluded on August 15 and the outcome was received from the chairperson on October 13.
“Accordingly, Mr Makwakwa was found not guilty of all charges. Contrary to media reports spreading the allegation that the processes were tainted and that Mr Moyane had a hand in allegedly tainting the processes, the above clearly demonstrates a patently fair, unbiased and independent process, he said.
“Sars is concerned that wide spread media reports seem to suggest that Sars erred by allowing Mr Makwakwa back into his employ given that there is a criminal matter pending. This assertion displays a lack of understanding of the difference between a misconduct investigation by an employer and a criminal investigation.”