File picture

Cape Town - A 49-year-old Cape Town man has been sentenced to a total of 12 years of direct imprisonment after he was convicted on 400 counts of fraud.

The Wynberg Regional Court found Johannes Tobias Wessels guilty of defrauding the South African Revenue Services of almost R15 million.

In a statement on Monday, the Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority said Wessels had committed the fraud "through vat returns that contained false information, filing false tax invoices, failing to submit income tax returns and failing to keep proper books".

Spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Wessels entered into a plea and sentencing agreement with the state.

"This morning the court convicted him on 88 counts of fraud against SARS premised on VAT 201 returns containing false information, 315 counts of fraud against SARS premised on false tax invoices to substantiate false VAT refunds claimed. Six counts of c/s 75(1) (a) of the Income Tax Act for failing to submit income tax returns. Five counts of c/s 58(f) for failing to keep proper books of account." 

Wessels, described by the NPA as a "bogus businessman", was director and representative vendor of three companies and "in effective control of two closed corporations of which his wife was the member and representative vendor". 

"The entities all claimed VAT refunds over a protracted period of time and in total R14,979,992 was paid out to them by the SARS."

Ntabazalila said Wessels gambled away a large sum of the money and lived a lifestyle beyond his means. 

He said the NPA welcomed the sentence. 

African News Agency/ANA