A Mitchells Plain tax practitioner has been found guilty of more than 100 fraud charges after he submitted false income tax returns for 28 taxpayers. File photo: INLSA
Cape Town - A Mitchells Plain tax practitioner has been found guilty of more than 100 fraud charges after he submitted false income tax returns for 28 taxpayers.

John Bantam was convicted on Tuesday of 121 counts of fraud by the Bellville Regional Court.

According to the charge sheet, Bantam submitted income tax returns where he claimed the taxpayers had businesses and those businesses had losses to claim from SA Revenue Services (Sars).

The tax return claims resulted in tax refunds of R690 455.75 to the 28 taxpayers. For his work Bantam received a 10% fee on each refund the taxpayers received, paid to his wife’s account.

The tax returns date back to 2003 and were submitted from the year 2009 via eFiling, an online tax return system.

When Sars requested supporting documents for the business losses, the taxpayers contacted the accused, who later generated false supporting documents justifying the businesses losses and forwarded them to Sars.

The taxpayers said they never had businesses and were salaried employees, therefore they never incurred business losses.

They testified that the first time they heard about the business loss claims was when they were contacted by Sars.

According to the charge sheet, “information and/or documentation pertaining to the business expenses and/or losses declared on behalf of the taxpayers mentioned in the income tax returns was not provided by the taxpayers to the accused”.

Bantam chose not to testify and did not call any defence witnesses.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Bantam argued that due to workload, he outsourced the work to other people. Therefore, he never submitted the returns.

He said the false information contained in the returns was not put in by him but by third parties.

“His version was rejected by the court. More so, he did not take the stand to gainsay the evidence advanced,” said Ntabazalila.

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Cape Argus