Sars advisory board was wrong about ‘rogue unit’: Kroon

The advisory board of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) relied only on the word of Tom Moyane‚ his right-hand man Jonas Makwakwa and a report by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane when it pronounced that the institution’s “rogue unit” was unlawful.

The board did not interview any witnesses or make any independent inquiries.

This was according to former chairperson of the advisory board‚ Judge Frank Kroon‚ who testified before the commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance issues at Sars on Friday.

In April 2015‚ Kroon’s board issued a press statement saying a high-level intelligence unit in Sars‚ now infamously known as the “rogue unit”‚ was unlawful because it did not have the statutory authority to covertly gather evidence.

Kroon’s statement at the time relied on the findings of a forensic report by Sikhakhane on the unit‚ as well as a preliminary report by KPMG. Both reports found the unit to be unlawful and provided a base for the suspension of senior Sars officials like former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

“The statements relating to the unlawfulness of the establishment of the unit were not thought through properly and were‚ in fact‚ incorrect. Such a unit‚ established on its own‚ would be quite lawful‚” Kroon conceded.

“The board relied entirely on the Sikhakhane report‚ and Moyane’s and Makwakwa’s statements to us‚ a report to the standing committee on intelligence in parliament‚ there was the KPMG preliminary report. What was not relied on was the disciplinary proceedings against Pillay.

“The reports that we had detailed allegations of unlawful activity on the part of members of the unit‚ but we did not speak to witnesses personally‚ we relied on what Moyane and Makwakwa said.”

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