South Africa

Public Protector: Accountability Now seeks investigation into Guptas’ tax affairs

By Bheki C. Simelane 25 August 2017

The Public Protector’s office has confirmed receipt of a request to investigate the SA Revenue Service's conduct regarding the Gupta family's tax affairs. By BHEKI C. SIMELANE.

The Gupta family should brace themselves for more heat after the Public Protector’s office confirmed to Daily Maverick on Thursday that they had received Accountability Now‘s request to investigate SARS’s conduct regarding its decision to abandon an investigation into the Gupta family’s tax affairs.

Accountability Now suspect that the Guptas’ sale of their assets hinges on the family’s intent to skip the country.

The body feels that if the Guptas are allowed to leave the country it might be very hard to recover any money they owed to SARS.

A short while after revelations that the family was selling its media interests – Africa News Network (ANN 7) and The New Age (TNA) – to former Government Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi, it emerged that the Guptas are also selling their mining interests in Tegeta to a mysterious Swiss-based company called Charles King SA.

There is a risk, given the two sales that the Guptas are in the process of disinvesting in South Africa and that, should it transpire, upon proper investigation that they owe tax, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to recover it from them in foreign climes once their disinvestment is completed.” Accountability Now’s complaint read.

Accountability Now notes that SARS conducted a preliminary investigation into the affairs of the Guptas, but that the investigation was stopped upon the appointment of the current SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane. The group also notes that SARS will not disclose any information regarding the Guptas’ tax affairs to any member of the public, including the press and the NGO Sector.

Scorpio and amaBhungane published a report this week that showed that for three years in a row, 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Gupta brothers – who possess vast wealth – appear to have convinced the South African Revenue Service (SARS) that they were taking home less than R1-million in personal income annually.

Accountability Now’s complaint comes after several attempts to hold the Guptas accountable – this despite the fact that some senior Government officials have called for decisive action.

The latest ANC Government official to have raised the red flag about the Guptas and asked the family to leave the country was ANC NEC member and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Bheki Cele.

Despite the calls to hold the Gupta family accountable and various investigations on the cards in parliament and elsewhere, there is still no indication yet when the family might be brought to answer.

The Guptas claim that they are selling their businesses so that they are able to defend themselves against the litany of claims against the family. They have consistently denied wrongdoing. DM

Photo: Accountability Now has asked Public protector Busisiswe Mkhwebane to investigate SARS’s conduct regarding its decision to abandon an investigation into the Gupta family’s tax affairs. Photo: Nic Bothma/(EPA)

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