SARS chief Pillay dismisses media claims he ‘let Kebble off hook’
29 July 2013
Posted by: Author: Amanda Visser
Author: Amanda Visser (BusinessDay)
Acting South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Ivan Pillay has dismissed media reports that he knew or met mining magnate Brett Kebble, or his father Roger, whose tax affairs were investigated before Brett Kebble’s death.
He was addressing senior SARS managers on Friday about the state of the institution following the abrupt departure of disgraced former commissioner Oupa Magashula more than two weeks ago.
During the discussion, one of the managers expressed concern about further damage to the image and integrity of SARS following a Sunday Times report in which it was alleged Mr Pillay handled Brett Kebble with "kid gloves".
The article said Mr Pillay’s alleged failure, as head of the special investigating unit at the time, to act against the "politically well-connected corporate crook Brett Kebble, who lived the life of an emperor for more than 10 years while not paying a cent in tax, remains a mystery".
Mr Pillay on Friday explained the circumstances surrounding the investigations at the time, saying the Brett Kebble matter had been complex, involving different entities and different departments within SARS. He said SARS even had different audit teams working on the case.
When the issues about the Kebble’s mining house, JCI, surfaced, SARS wanted to get a better understanding of what was happening and realised that several teams were working independently on the matter. "There was one team in Polokwane (that) was flying to Cape Town every week to deal with the matter," Mr Pillay said.
"We called everybody together and said there’ll be one national project with one team leader.
"The two gentlemen from Polokwane would like to say the investigation was suspended. It wasn’t, but we stopped them from doing what they were doing."
Both Kebbles were charged. Brett Kebble was shot dead before he could appear in court. "It is not true that we got nothing," Mr Pillay said. "We claimed R58m from his estate."
SARS is also sequestrating Brett Kebble’s associate, Glenn Agliotti.