Acting South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Mark Kingon on Tuesday said he was not aware of any intelligence unit operating within the revenue collection agency, says Polity.
Kingon was asked bluntly by Democratic Alliance (DA) member of Parliament (MP) David Maynier whether, to his knowledge, their was any intelligence gathering unit, legal or illegal, within Sars or on behalf of the organisation within the State Security Agency (SSA).
“I don’t know, but I am not aware of any intelligence unit in the legal sense operating at Sars or for Sars at the SSA,” Kingon replied.
“Obviously we gather intelligence, but it is not an intelligence unit.”
Kingon said Sars needed to gather intelligence to fight tax crimes and illicit money flows.
“Tax crime is a very serious issue. You need intelligence to be able to tackle these things.”
The remarks were made during a Sars briefing to Parliament’s standing committee on finance, days after the Sunday Times again apologised for a series of articles on transgressions by a “rogue” intelligence unit within Sars, allegedly set up on the watch of Pravin Gordhan, currently minister of public enterprises, while he headed the revenue collection service. The newspaper parted ways with two investigative reporters who penned the stories.
The story has been discredited as a narrative advanced by suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane and the administration of former president Jacob Zuma to politically undermine Gordhan, lauded for his tough anti-corruption stance, while he served as finance minister.
However, the DA believes that an intelligence (unit) had in fact been established within Sars, in contravention of regulations.