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SARS investigating 17 ‘politically exposed persons’

SARS is investigating 17 tenders, involving “politically exposed persons”, worth R1.2 billion.

A SARS probe into “politically exposed persons” for Covid-19 corruption involves 17 tenders worth R1.2 billion.

The inter-ministerial committee appointed to deal with Covid-19 corruption says it will not be investigating.

According to the committee, its role is to coordinate.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is investigating 17 tenders, involving “politically exposed persons”, worth R1.2 billion, or 60% of the R2 billion it is probing, the tax collector’s commissioner Edward Kieswetter told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).

On Friday, Scopa was briefed on the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) appointed to deal with Covid-19 related corruption, and allowed short briefings by the heads of law enforcement agencies, like SARS.

Kieswetter said SARS is going to do “significant work” in this regard. He said they are looking into 370 cases, which led to revenue losses of R300 million.

READ | Covid-19 tenders in Gauteng: Here’s the companies paid millions for goods and services

SARS is also investigating 139 companies for possible tax evasion – which includes not declaring income from personal protective equipment (PPE) sales, meaning that they tried to cheat the very same government whose money they took.

Among their cases is one of a 30-year-old, who received a PPE contract worth R125 million.

Some of the companies, who were awarded PPE contracts, were registered as car washes, pubs, bakeries and property agents.

The meeting got off on a slightly false note, when it was revealed only half of the ministers serving on the IMC were in attendance, despite the date for the meeting having been proposed by the IMC’s convenor, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

DA MP Benedicta van Minnen said it is unacceptable.

“It needs to be understood by the country that these investigations are a priority,” she said.

Committee chairperson IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said it isn’t a crisis; this is only the start of their work with the IMC.

READ | Accounting body strips Anoj Singh of membership

“The executive can’t perform oversight over the executive. It is the role of Parliament.”

Investigating ourselves

The ministers on the IMC not in attendance were…

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