Durban08112012 Shauwn Mpisane leaves Durban Regional Court.Picture:marilyn Bernard

Durban - Fraud-accused Shauwn Mpisane had approached Sars to “look into” her company’s tax affairs to ensure her books were in order. She did not expect to be prosecuted, she said.

On Thursday, Mpisane said that in 2008, after a story in Noseweek about her husband’s lifestyle, Sars had approached her husband Sbu to be audited.

“I asked them if it was possible to look into my books and check if what SAB&T [her accounting firm] was doing was proper. They said they’ll audit my husband first and then issue a letter of engagement to me.”

Mpisane said she had requested Sars to look at her financials for 2008 because that was the year her business took off.

She said the financials were not available, so she handed draft statements to Sars auditor Waheeda Osman.

The Durban businesswoman, who has a diploma in accounting, said she hired SAB&T Inc on the recommendation of Sars.

She said she approached Sars because the people she had hired were “not doing justice” to her company.

She said that when the allegations in the current case surfaced, she made sure her disclosures were confidential, mainly due to her previous conviction.

In 2005, Mpisane pleaded guilty to 62 counts of fraud.

The conviction resulted after she met a Vito Kopala, from Sars, who assisted her with her tax.

“The impression I got was that he was assisting me. Shortly after, I was prosecuted and told that I had to pay, plead guilty and they won’t stop me from trading.”

Mpisane and her company, Zikhulise Cleaning Mainten-ance and Transport, are being tried on 119 counts of fraud involving R4.7 million for submitting invoices alleged to have been fake.

Referring to the invoices in question, Mpisane said: “I was puzzled. For an accountant to carry out an audit using draft financials is very questionable. Waheeda wanted to raise a big amount [for Sars] to look good.”

Mpisane had objected to Osman’s assessment, which led the discussion into an alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

The invoices provided at a meeting to discuss the ADR has become the focus of the trial- within-a-trial which started earlier this week.

The defence is arguing the admissibility of the documents handed in, claiming that these documents are prohibited from use in the trial and protected by provisions in the Income Tax Act.

“I understood that everything was privileged. No one told me any different,” Mpisane said yesterday.

Mpisane said she had never had a VAT assessment done, yet she was being prosecuted for VAT violations for 2010.

The court heard that Mpi-sane had applied for a voluntary disclosure programme with Sars in July 2011, a month after she had been charged in the current matter.

She said that when she made the application, she was unaware of charges related to VAT.

Mpisane said she was led to believe she had entered into a negotiation process. She said there was no reason for her to believe that the invoices were going to be audited.

The case continues. - Daily News