DURBAN – The South African Revenue Service (Sars) recovered illicit cigarettes and tobacco worth more than R500m in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Sars, through its Criminal and Illicit Economic Activities and Customs divisions, had carried out inspections as well as search and seizure operations on cigarette companies and manufacturers in the three provinces.
Sars’ search and seizure exercises yielded the following:
- A physical inspection is under way at the Durban Harbour after 20 containers were declared to contain tobacco valued at R24m, though the initial inspection found a consignment of cement bags. Furthermore, the same exporter was detected to be involved in the exporting of over 10 million kilograms of tobacco valued at over R450m. Sars investigations are continuing.
- 3 852 master cases valued at R51m in Gauteng.
- 362 master cases valued at R4.8m in the Western Cape.
Sars said the premises that were inspected and searched include the residences of certain individual taxpayers.
“The intervention and operations are related to wider investigations and audits into the tax affairs of cigarette manufacturers, their directors, related entities and individuals for purposes of verifying their tax compliance and identifying information that may support such audits.”
Sars said the interventions were initiated after potential discrepancies were identified in customs declarations and tax returns related to the entities.
The Sars commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, reiterated the organisation’s and broader government’s commitment to combating any illicit trade and criminal economic activities.
“Those who systematically and deliberately set out to deprive what is due to fiscus through fraudulent and other non-compliant activities will be confronted and dealt with. This kind of conduct will be made hard and costly,” Kieswetter said.
Sars encouraged taxpayers and traders to ensure that their tax and customs obligations were up to date and in compliance with the tax and customs laws.