Probe prompts Sars boss’s resignation

Johannesburg – SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula has resigned following an investigation into allegations of misconduct, the Treasury announced on Friday.

“Following the outcome of a fact-finding inquiry into these allegations, Magashula has resigned with effect from July 12, 2013,” Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters in Pretoria.

Gordhan had ordered an investigation into allegations that Magashula had offered a chartered accountant (CA) a job at Sars. The investigation was conducted by retired justice Zak Yacoob and advocate Muzi Sikhakhane.

According to media reports in March this year, Magashula allegedly offered a job to a CA in a recorded telephone conversation. The conversation was reportedly facilitated by a Timothy Marimuthu, who allegedly had influence over Magashula.

Gordhan said the media reports had raised questions about the integrity of staff recruitment processes at Sars, and he had appointed Yacoob and Sikhakhane to investigate.

The investigation revealed that:

* Magashula, by his conduct, had placed the reputation and credibility of Sars at risk;

* The commissioner had been much less frank with the investigation committee than it would have expected of a person in his position;

* He had caused Gordhan to make an incorrect statement to the public with regards to the CA’s CV not having been sent to Sars;

* An interview had been arranged, but the CA cancelled because she preferred a job based in Durban, which did not meet Sars’s requirements.

* Magashula interacted with Marimuthu more times than he had initially admitted to the minister and the committee; and,

* He told the minister and the committee that he had no further communication with the CA, but it later transpired that the accountant sent five e-mails to Magashula’s Sars e-mail address.

Allegations of Marimuthu’s influence over Magashula could not be probed because Marimuthu had not responded positively to a request for an interview.

The committee found no evidence that Magashula committed a crime. On Tuesday, Magashula received a copy of the investigation report.

A day later he admitted to Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene that his actions constituted a failure to promote and maintain a high standard of professionalism and ethical behaviour expected of the Sars commissioner.

Gordhan said he would instruct the Sars audit committee to investigate whether Magashula’s behaviour breached any tax processes.

He would also appoint a committee to review Sars’s governance and ethical standards, pertaining to the office of the commissioner.

Deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay was appointed acting commissioner until the appointment of a new head at Sars. – Sapa

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