080310 The new offices of SARS at corner Rissik street and Albert street. Picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Johannesburg - The 90-day period of an acting SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner can be extended, the national Treasury said on Thursday.

“The 90-day period can be extended at the discretion of the minister of finance and there is no limitation in law to the number of extensions the minister... wishes to determine,” spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said in an e-mail to Sapa.

He was responding to queries after the Sunday Times reported that acting Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay had been in the position for more than a year, despite the Sars Act requiring it be no more than 90 days.

Pillay had been in the position since Oupa Magashule resigned in July last year after being exposed for inappropriate behaviour.

The newspaper reported that Pillay was a key figure in “Operation Vula”, the African National Congress's (ANC) underground mission aimed at bringing its leaders into South Africa in the late 1980s.

He was recruited to the ANC underground by Mac Maharaj and worked closely with former Sars commissioner and finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Maharaj, now the presidency spokesman, declined to comment to Sapa and referred queries to Treasury.

Sikhakhane said in terms of the act, the minister could appoint another employee to act as commissioner for a period of 90 days “if there is a vacancy for the position of commissioner”. - Sapa