Durban - Businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane denied on Friday applying for the voluntary disclosure programme (VDP) with the SA Revenue Service (Sars) because she had been charged under to the Contravention of VAT Act.

Mpisane told the Durban Regional Court that when she was charged with fraud and corruption on June 2, 2011 the State did not provide her and her legal representative with a charge sheet.

Mpisane is accused of inflating invoices by more than R5 million to cut her tax bill. She is also accused of violating the Close Corporation Act by remaining the sole member of the Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance, and Transport CC when she had a fraud conviction.

She has pleaded not guilty.

The court is holding a trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence submitted by the State.

It has submitted as evidence 148 invoices obtained from Mpisane during Sars' alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.

Under the Sars legislation, any information provided during this process is confidential.

During cross examination, State advocate Meera Nidu put it to Mpisane that a preliminary charge sheet was provided to her and that VAT charges were included.

Mpisane told the court that her lawyer at the time, Phemba Njoli, wrote a letter to the State on August 8 asking for a charge sheet.

Mpisane has been charged with 119 counts; six of those are for the contravention of VAT for the year 2010.

Her VDP application was made in July 2011, a month after she was charged for fraud and corruption. Her application pertains to tax affairs for 2009 and 2010.

According to Sars legal and policy division group executive Johan Vlok Symington, the programme allowed for an entity or a person to enter into a process where a taxpayer disclosed information to Sars and provided a taxpayer an opportunity to resolve any outstanding affairs.

Mpisane said: “I was aware of VAT charges for 2008.”

She said investigators conducted a search and seizure operation and only told her they were looking for documents for 2008.

Nidu said documents supporting the search and seizure did not indicate that a charge sheet was not provided to her.

She told Mpisane that she assumed she was only being charged for the 2008 year, because a specific period was not mentioned on the charge sheet.

The State has changed Mpisane's charge sheet four times.

Mpisane has alleged that Waheeda Osman, Sars auditor in Durban, backdated her statement of May 2011 so it would appear she was already being investigated.

She said an Ethekwini municipality official only handed invoices from her company to investigators in November 2011.

The matter was adjourned to November 23. - Sapa