SARS appoints firm linked to 'dodgy' Makwakwa payments
SARS second in command Jonas Makwakwa was accused of benefitting R1.3m in payments
New Integrated Credit Solutions (NICS), a company linked to dodgy payments paid to South African Revenue Services (SARS) second in command Jonas Makwakwa, has been appointed to help the taxman recover billions of rands in debt owed to SARS.
NICS is one of eight companies appointed by the revenue service to assist it to try and get a hold of some R16.6-billion owed by millions of taxpayers and traders.
This is despite the controversy of money paid to NICS by the Department of Water and Sanitation. This money was linked to a series of payments made into the personal account of Makwakwa, SARS’s chief officer for business and individual tax. He was eventually cleared of all charges relating to R1.3-million in suspicious deposits.In a media statement issued on Friday, SARS said CSS Credit Solution Services, Business Administrators, Medaco Capital Services, Norman Bisset and Associates, Revenue Consulting, Transactional Capital Reserves and Van De Venter Mojapelo would work alongside NICS to trace “older” and “relatively small” amounts owed to SARS by 2.3 million taxpayers and traders.
“Taxpayers and traders with outstanding accounts will only be contacted via electronic channels. The agencies will embark on the traditional debt collection activities ...
“The debt collection agencies have also been tasked with encouraging non-compliant taxpayers to submit their outstanding returns to SARS so as to avoid the imposition of any further interest or penalties and criminal charges.
“The revenue collected by SARS is vital for fuelling the growth and development of our country and assisting SARS to achieve its tough target of R1.217-trillion. Compliant taxpayers who pay their dues should be justifiably proud that they contribute to this national agenda as responsible citizens.”The payments to Makwakwa, which were made over a period between 2010 and 2016 and totalled R 1.2-million, were reported to SARS by the Financial Intelligence Centre in September 2016. The FIC’s report relied on bank records for 11 different bank accounts and included camera footage from banks where cash deposits were made.
The report concluded the “volume and value of the cash deposits are highly unusual” for a permanent employee and should be investigated, the Sunday Times reported at the time.
It was also reported that through a complex network of bank accounts and companies, investigators traced these payments back to a February 2015 payment of R17.87-million by the Department of Water and Sanitation to NICS.
It is not clear what the connection is between a chain of six different companies that have been identified in the report, which include several debt-collection companies and a company called Biz Fire Worx, where Makwakwa was once a director. It sells fire safety equipment.SARS spokesperson Luther Lebello on Saturday said SARS only knew that Makwakwa received money from Biz Fireworks, not from NICS.
“Further than that, it is importat to note that SARS contracted NICS to provide similar services 10 years ago,” he said.
“SARS followed the same procurement process as prescribed by the PFMA and SARS adjudication process, which is similar to the other service providers. The companies will be paid a small percentage of their collections, so there is no fixed charge to SARS,” he added.
NICS director Baker Maseko said he had never made any payment to Makwakwa, nor had he ever rendered any service to NICS.
“NICS has been appointed in terms of a public tender process and this can only be attributed to our credentials, impeccable record in providing similar services to other clients and our previous success in providing similar services to SARS.”
Maseko also said that fellow director Mpho Makwakwa was not related to Makwakwa, while Lebello said SARS also believed there was no relationship.
Makwakwa was suspended and then reinstated last November after, according to SARS at the time, a disciplinary hearing chaired by independent senior counsel Advocate Terry Motau found him not guilty.