‘Rogue unit victim’ to pay Pravin Gordhan millions after losing court case
Johannesburg - South Africa’s multinational tobacco dealer, Martin Fraser Wingate-Pearse, was ordered to pay Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan a huge sum for legal costs for alleging that he was part of a “rogue unit” while SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner.
Wingate-Pearse, who is also co-director of Carlinix, initially made the allegations against Gordhan and former Sars officials Ivan Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg in his review application in the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg in September 2015.
This was after Sars conducted a search and seizure at his house in April 2005, and the revenue services obtained several documents showing he was not tax compliant in his tobacco and clothing businesses.
As a result, his tax liability increased from R350000 to R41.7million.
According to documents before court, he made several legal efforts to challenge the amounts, including applying for tax amnesty.
He also made several challenges to the Tax Court, and one in the Supreme Court of Appeal, which he lost.
In September 2015, he filed papers in the high court arguing that he was a victim of Sars’s ‘covert intelligence unit’.
He alleged the unit was established to conduct illegal covert intelligence operations, and that Van Loggerenberg had conducted covert surveillance operations concerning him, and that he intercepted and monitored his communications.
Wingate-Pearse claimed the unit had infringed his constitutional rights.
According to Wingate-Pearse, Van Loggerenberg conducted the alleged covert operation while still romantically linked to his lawyer, Belinda Walters.
Wingate-Pearse also alleged that Sars illegally obtained information about his business dealings from his former friend Glenn Agliotti, and from former national police commissioner, the late Jackie Selebi, saying both had been competing directly with his business interests.
He also asked the court to set aside Sars’s additional tax assessments for the period 1998 to 2005.
In April this year, Pillay and Van Loggerenberg filed an application to the court to admit the findings of the presidential commission of inquiry headed by retired Judge Robert Nugent pertaining to a ‘rogue unit’ in Sars.
The matter was then set down for trial on May 20.
But, in a surprise move six days before the scheduled tral, Wingate- Pearse gave notice withdrawing his allegations against Gordhan, Pillay and Van Loggerenberg.
Despite the withdrawal on the main application, Judge Pieter Meyer rejected Wingate-Pearse’s version, saying the alleged rogue unit had been established in 2007, while his house had been raided in November 2004.
Judge Meyer also said the Nugent Inquiry had made “findings in its final report that supported Sars’s stance that Wingate-Pearse’s allegations about the existence of a rogue unit within the ranks of Sars are without a factual basis”.
Wingate-Pearse was ordered in the high court on Wednesday to pay the costs of Gordhan and Sars separately.
He also lost his tax challenge for filing his papers after more than 10 years.
The judge said the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) stipulated that aggrieved parties should file their complaints within 180 days.
Wingate-Pearse was subsequently ordered to also pay the cost of his failed legal action.