South African Revenue Services Commissioner, Tom Moyane (Pic: jonisayi Maromo/ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Revenue Services (Sars) on Friday denied that its Commissioner, Tom Moyane, was aiding President Zuma to avoid his tax obligations.

This comes after last weekend’s Sunday Times’ lead story, “Gangster republic: inside the Zuma family’s dealings with the criminal underworld”, which was an extract from a book by investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw, “The President’s Keepers – Those keeping Zuma in power and out of prison”.

In the book, Pauw exposes, among others, an alleged plot by Zuma to quash his massive R63-million tax bill, and his failure to submit his tax returns during at least the first five years of his presidency.

Pauw also alleges that Moyane had a hand in purging Sars employees who were probing Zuma when he succeeded former Sars boss Oupa Magashule. The officials include Ivan Pillay, Mark Kingon, Gene Ravele and Johann van Loggerenberg.

But Sars dismissed the allegations of purging officials "with contempt", saying that all former officials mentioned in the article voluntarily resigned from the organisation. 

In a statement, Sars said Pauw was making an "unsubstantiated allegation" that Moyane was using his position and proximity to Zuma to aid him avoid his tax obligations.

Sars has since threatened taking criminal and civil action against Pauw and the Sunday Times newspaper, saying that a disclosure of confidential taxpayer information outside judicial processes was unlawful and a criminal offence in terms of the Tax Administration Act.

Sars said the tone of Pauw's reporting was biased, "irresponsible and mischievous", and sought to cast aspersions on the character of Moyane.

"The report perpetuates the unfounded narrative that [Moyane] is involved in efforts to quash President Zuma's tax liability. This narrative is untruthful, disingenuous and outrightly irresponsible," Sars said.

"Sars wishes to point out that the allegations pertaining to the President Zuma's tax affairs refer to events that occurred prior to Commissioner Moyane assuming his current position. That fact alone should be more than enough to end such reckless speculation and treacherous narrative."

Sars further said that providing accurate information to refute these claims, would contravene the law and also breach the relationship of trust between it and taxpayers.

"We reiterate that the Commissioner, along with all former and current Sars officials, is compelled to uphold the confidentiality of any taxpayer’s information, regardless of the position or status of the taxpayer.

"It must be appreciated that Sars is placed in a very difficult position when factually incorrect information is published about a taxpayer, hence its intention to take action against Mr. Pauw and the paper."

- African News Agency