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Malicious reporting

Monday, 12 January 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Luther Lebelo (SARS)
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Author: Luther Lebelo (SARS)

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has noticed with disappointment a tendency by some media houses to maliciously misrepresent the facts, thereby misleading the public. SARS would like to clarify misconceptions created in reporting of the suspension of Peter Richer.

Some of the stories carried last week create the impression that SARS has somehow ignored a court order or settlement. This is entirely incorrect and misleading. On December 17, SARS came to an out-of-court agreement with Mr Richer and his legal team, which was then formalised by being made an order of court.

In that agreement, SARS undertook to give Mr Richer more time to make representations on why he should not be suspended, as per his request. On December 19, Mr Richer submitted his representations on why he should not be suspended.

SARS responded to Mr Richer, informing him that his representation was received, and that it would respond on or before January 12. Consequently, SARS reviewed the submission Mr Richer made against the prima facie evidence available pending further investigations.

Mr Richer was then suspended on January 6, as SARS remains of the view that the situation merits a suspension, given the seriousness of the allegations, and the potential to interfere with the investigation because of his seniority.

SARS is one of the key pillars of our democratic government. It is an institution built on trust and integrity. It is therefore critical that SARS employees, especially senior officials, behave in a manner that is above reproach.

For SARS not to take action when there are serious allegations of fraud and illegal activity about some of our staff, regardless of their seniority and public profile, would be the height of irresponsibility.

This article first appeared on

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