Employees from the National Treasury appeared before the Nugent Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Parliament - There is good progress underway in criminal investigations stemming from the damage wrought on the South African Revenue Service (SARS) during the Tom Moyane era, National Treasury deputy-director general Ismail Momoniat said on Tuesday. 

"In the last few months we have had very positive interaction with the Hawks and the NPA... I have a sense that there is movement and I feel a bit positive that something will happen," Momoniat told Parliament's standing committee on finance.

The Nugent Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance at SARS recommended that criminal charges be pursued over the awarding of a contract, under axed former commissioner Tom Moyane, to Boston-based consultancy Bain & Company that developed a flawed operating model for the revenue service.

The operating model resulted in a loss of R100 billion in revenue and severely compromised the tax collector's reputation.

Momoniat said the tax service still had some way to go in repairing the damage and restoring collection levels, telling the committee: "It will take SARS at least two years be in a decent space."

Momoniat said SARS itself has done a lot of "follow-up" in terms of assisting with the investigations by providing these law enforcement agencies with information and affidavits. This included information about Moyane and the former head of business and individual taxes, Jonas Makwakwa.

He said as a layman, he had no doubt that Boston-based consultancy Bain & Company, which conceded its role in developing a flawed operating model for the revenue service under Moyane.

Momoniat also suggested that there was a consideration to restrict SARS's use of international consultancies on the whole following the debacle.

"We are also talking to the agency to review any consultancies they have in terms of resources," he said.

SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter said in July that SARS was working with the criminal justice system to formulate civil and criminal charges against Bain.

The company has paid back more R217 million it received, including interest, but Kieswetter has made plain that he did not believe this was sufficient redress for the damage it inflicted on SARS, its staff and the rest of South Africa.

African News Agency (ANA)