Human Rights

Chairperson of Standing Committee on Finance Expresses Reservations on Oakbay Tax Return Payout

Parliament� The Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Mr Yunus Carrim, has expressed his reservations with the contention that the value-added tax (VAT) return owed to Gupta-owned Oakbay was paid to a third party, Terbium Financial Services, without the approval of the South African Revenue Services (SARS) Commissioner, Mr Tom Moyane.

The main issue is whether this was legal or not, and we have referred the matter to Parliament’s Legal Services Unit to advise our committee. Interestingly, Terbium itself seems to be divided about whether it was legal, said Mr Carrim.

He said the committee has on several occasions in its quarterly meetings with SARS raised concerns about allegations that SARS deliberately withheld VAT returns to boost its revenue targets. SARS has strenuously denied the allegations.

Mr Carrim understands that the Office of the Tax Ombudsman investigated the allegations and pronounced that VAT returns were being held back, although there was no substantial evidence that it was done deliberately.

In any event, SARS’ actions in the case of the Gupta companies, even if legal, suggests that they were treated favourably, given the delay in VAT returns when it comes to many other tax payers. Presumably, the banks closed down the accounts of Gupta companies in terms of legislation that prevents them from servicing clients who have a case to answer for wrong-doing. Did SARS take that into account in making its decision, as the same legislation also has implications for them? he said.

Mr Carrim believes Gupta company employees should be paid and not be made victims of any alleged wrongdoing by their employers. He emphasised that the Guptas must find a way to pay their employees, without demanding VAT returns in controversial circumstances.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa