SARS hopes a long jail sentence handed down to a former employee convicted of racketeering will deter staff from committing fraud.
Yesterday (23 May 2013), the Cape Town High Court sentenced Edmund Fredericks and Aaron Carelse to 15 years in jail.
Judge Daniel Dlodlo found that Fredericks, a former SARS employee, had been the key figure in several VAT and income tax scams.
The two men were found guilty of fraud, forgery and “participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering”.
An investigation that began in 2009 found evidence of a VAT fraud scheme . Several businesses were established with the sole purpose of submitting false VAT claims and getting refunds .
Eric Ntabazalila, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape, said when SARS required corroboration for the claimed refunds, false invoices were submitted.
SARS stopped paying refunds to these businesses only to receive fraudulent claims for income tax refunds. This time, fictitious taxpayers were created and fake bank accounts opened.
SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay welcomed the sentence.
“We hope it will send a strong signal to SARS officials. We are intolerant of any form of improper conduct and our anti-corruption measures will be applied very swiftly.”