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Accountant fined for Sars fraud

Kwa-Zulu Natal
DURBAN - Accountant Vimal Singh pleaded guilty in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday to 52 counts of fraud.

Through his company, VRM Accounting Services Incorporated, Singh made fraudulent claims to the South African Revenue Services (Sars) to the tune of nearly R4million.

The claims, which were false Pay As You Earn (PAYE) statements, were filed over an eight-month period.

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The accountant pleaded to 52 counts of fraud. Picture: Independent Media

Singh pleaded on behalf of VRM Accounting Services.

In hearing all the facts put before her, magistrate Sophie Reddy ruled that VRM Accounting Services Incorporates be fined R300000 with R200000 suspended for five years, provided they were not convicted of any similar offences.

Sars officials smelled a rat when claims were made from a group of companies but details of claimants were altered.

Also, some of the claims had the same person’s details, but a different company name was given.

A source close to the investigation revealed that the seven companies used to claim had all been liquidated and were past clients of the firm.

Singh appeared with two other co-accused yesterday. However, the State withdrew the charges against the two men.

Between December 2006 and April 2013, the firm processed 52 claims by 14 claimants.

In court, it was heard that some of these claimants were either employed at the company or were long-standing clients of the firm.

According to the charge sheet, Singh had prepared and submitted false IT12 (tax) returns to Sars.

Remorseful

He had also unlawfully used information of past clients to create and submit to Sars false EMP501 (payment reconciliation) declarations and IRP5 certificates to generate refunds and perverted the lawful procedure with the intention of obtaining undue tax refunds from Sars.

The actions undertaken by the firm cost Sars nearly R4m.

Singh’s legal defence said he had intended to plead guilty and be sentenced to a fine of R320000, of which R240000 would be suspended for five years.

In mitigation of sentence, his attorney added that Singh had been remorseful and once he was aware of the investigation by Sars, he had ceased all fraudulent activity.

In citing the State’s case, prosecutor Mbali Mdadane explained that accountants were held up to a high standard and in certain circumstances they could be held personally liable for intentional or negligent performance of their duties, which led to harm.

“The manner in which the accused committed the crime of fraud in this case was over a period of eight months, spanning two years and involved a very sophisticated scheme, perpetrated with the sole purpose to defraud Sars of an amount of R3 792 786 59, unfairly enriching its clients, employees and itself.

“It is was only after Sars investigators began investigating the fraudulent refunds and were questioning the taxpayers involved that the accused made efforts to correct its criminal behaviour,” Mdadane said.

Daily News

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