CAPE TOWN - The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has called assertions made by Lord Peter Hain on Monday, “unfortunate and regrettable”.
Hain publicly lambasted the revenue service for its alleged involvement in corrupt practices.
“These allegations are not new and were responded to exhaustively in Parliament in South Africa on two occasions, including to the South African media,”SARS spokesperson Sicelo Mkosi said in a statement.
On Monday Hain also implicated a London law firm for its involvement in state capture in South Africa.
Law firm, Hogan Lovells has since been referred to the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) by Hain.
Hain said that the firm had helped to enable corruption at SARS.
“I have asked the SRA to withdraw Hogan Lovells’ authorisation as a recognised body and to examine what other disciplinary action can be taken against its leading partners, including withdrawing their permission to practice as solicitors,” he said.
According to Hain, a "whitewashed" document by the firm had “spared” SARS chief Tom Moyane and top executive Jonas Makwakwa from “accountability for their complicity in and cover-up of serious financial crimes”.
This was after the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) noted suspicious transactions between Makwakwa’s bank account and his partner Kelly-Ann Elskie.
The transactions apparently amounted to R1.7 million.
Makwakwa has denied any wrongdoing.
In the House of Lords, Hain accused the firm of creating an “incomplete, fatally flawed whitewash of a report, which ultimately cleared Makwakwa, despite reams of evidence to the contrary".
It was based on this report that SARS concluded that Makwakwa was innocent of wrongdoing.
The Hogan Lovells report did not include evidence provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers and by the Hawks, according to Hain.
“That meant that Makwakwa has answered to only a fraction of the allegations levelled against him - a serious deviation from Hogan Lovells’ mandate”.
Hain argued that the terms of reference of the inquiry into Makwakwa had been altered by SARS head, Tom Moyane.
Hain said that the UK firm was a “willingly gullible or malevolent accomplice” to Moyane’s “obfuscation”.
SARS in November stated that they believe the investigation into Makwakwa was accurate and fair.
“SARS is concerned that widespread media reports seem to suggest that SARS erred by allowing Makwakwa back into his employ given that there is a criminal matter pending. This assertion displays a lack of understanding of the difference between a misconduct investigation by an employer and a criminal investigation,” it said.
“SARS is deeply concerned about apparent bias, irresponsible and mischievous attitude to cast aspersions on the character of the organisation to perpetuate a negative narrative of an organisation that is undermining the rule of law.
"SARS finds it regrettable that some media reportage and analysis continues to promote the perception that an outstanding revenue collection agency is falling apart,” the revenue service said.
-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE