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Ramaphosa’s Farmgate: Sars ‘obligation is to maintain taxpayer confidentiality'

“Commissioner (Edward) Kieswetter is not and never was a director of any company owned by Mr Ramaphosa,” says Sars.

“Commissioner (Edward) Kieswetter is not and never was a director of any company owned by Mr Ramaphosa,” says Sars.

Published Jun 15, 2022

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SA Revenue Service defended its silence in the wake of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Farmgate scandal after the markets had closed on Wednesday and as South Africa marks a public holiday tomorrow.

Ramaphosa is at the centre of an international scandal, which broke last week, involving the theft of $4 million (R60m) from his game farm, Phala Phala Farm, with public speculation swirling around money laundering and law breaking due to foreign currency laws of the SA Reserve Bank.

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Although Ramaphosa has said the theft happened and the police were handling it, despite a public outcry for Sars to state its position, until today it has remained mum.

Sars said it noted the recent allegation made in the press and social media that the Commissioner for Sars was a director of a company owned by Ramaphosa. It is insinuated that Sars has, therefore, remained silent about the tax matters of Ramaphosa. It is further alleged that the Commissioner received a call from Ramaphosa to assist and, according to a source, the Commissioner denied the request.

“Commissioner (Edward) Kieswetter is not and never was a director of any company owned by Mr Ramaphosa. When he became Commissioner in May 2019, Mr Kieswetter, in keeping with good governance as well as the relevant policies, resigned all his directorships,” Sars said.

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It said Kieswetter had fully abided by his public commitment to manage his personal affairs in a manner that created public confidence and would continue to do so.

“The recent allegations are, therefore, not only incorrect but also mischievous in trying to link fake news about the Commissioner’s alleged directorship to Sars’s obligation to maintain taxpayer confidentiality.”

It said the guarantee of confidentiality of taxpayer information was what taxpayers got in return for the compulsion to provide full information to Sars.

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“Without the statutory guarantee of confidentiality, the expectation that the taxpayer will be candid and accurate with Sars diminishes. This compact written into law between Sars and taxpayers is the foundation of our tax system, without which Sars cannot function properly. The law is very clear in setting out the conditions under which the Sars Commissioner or any Sars official may disclose taxpayer information. Sars will abide by the law,” it said.

Sars said the Commissioner did not receive a call from President Ramaphosa as alleged.

“Moreover, the Commissioner does not involve himself in or deal with any taxpayer matters personally. Sars wants to reiterate that it continues to exercise its mandate for all tax infringements without fear, favour and prejudice irrespective of the role and status of any taxpayer,” Sars said.

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