Businessman Gary van der Merwe in bitter battle with Sars to save family home
JOHANNESBURG – Businessman Gary van der Merwe has vowed to take the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to the highest court in the land to challenge the sale of Zonnekus Mansion as well as take “the appropriate steps regarding damages if required”.
Van der Merwe said in an emailed communique to Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter on July 6 that
Zonnekus Mansion had allegedly been sold by auction for R15.5 million. The property's municipal valuation is R50m and it has a market value of between R70m and R100m.
Sars spokesperson Siphithi Sibeko neither denied nor confirmed the sale of the property, saying the agency was not in a position to divulge specific information and details on the affairs of taxpayers.
“We are constrained by the law not to speak out on these matters.”
Van der Merwe said the alleged sale was subject to confirmation in two weeks and could, therefore, still be stopped without “the Van der Merwe interests” intervening.
“You well know that our family will not be stripped of our family home on this basis without perusing a damages claim. My family, the 'Van der Merwe interests,’ currently have 10 pending matters against Sars which are mostly based on fraud by Sars officials linked to their attorneys.
“I have made numerous very reasonable offers to settle these matters, but to no avail. On June 26 I made another proposal… that would put some R11.5m into the coffers of Sars. I had no response,” he said.
In February, the Constitutional Court dismissed Van der Merwe’s application for leave to appeal an eviction order requiring him to vacate his home, held by Zonnekus Mansion, which was welcomed by Kieswetter, after a 10-year court battle.
Kieswetter said: “The Constitutional Court order paved the way for the liquidators of Zonnekus to take control of the last remaining asset of Zonnekus. The sheriff has evicted Van der Merwe from the property and placed it under the control of the liquidators. The liquidators can now sell the remaining property in order to recover the outstanding tax debt.”
In his communique to Kieswetter, Van der Merwe said the alleged shortfall, the post-liquidation costs, attorney’s fees and the liquidators’ fees would total an estimate higher than the selling price.
“Sars stands to receive zero out of the liquidated estate. (My) proposal… will put Sars in a position of receiving at least R11m against the current situation of zero. You can, therefore, not justify in any manner whatsoever not accepting (my) proposal.
“I am going to launch proceedings against Sars, the Sars officials involved, MacRobert Attorneys and Mr Kieswetter in his personal capacity on an urgent basis should I not receive an adequate response to this correspondence and… attached proposals,” he said.
Kieswetter said the Sars investigation had originated from a Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report regarding a suspicious transaction, involving an amount of about $15m (R251m).
Van der Merwe contends that this payment was made as a gift to his daughter in 2014.
Van der Merwe and his daughter, Candice, in August last year issued summonses against Sars totalling R7.6bn. The first summons claims R5.6bn from Sars, which was the complainant in a case that put Van der Merwe through a decade-long criminal trial where he was acquitted on all tax-related charges.
The second summons was for R1bn based on Sars falsely claiming that the money his daughter received in 2013 from a friend overseas was actually his.
The third summons for R1bn was as a result of Sars claiming that Candice was a conduit for her father’s money in circumstances where this was later admitted by Sars not to be the case.
SARS spokesperson Siphithi Sibeko neither denied nor confirmed the sale of the property. Its market value is R70-R100 million. | ziphozonke lushaba African News Agency (ANA)