The Johannesburg Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team has arrested two former South African Revenue Service (SARS) auditors who are facing tax evasion charges amounting to hundreds of millions of rands. 

The former SARS auditors, Corah Madlepollo Kooko, 39, and Noluthando Sipokazi Mbanga, 45, and a runner, Mndolozi Mncube, 44, appeared in the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday, facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of approximately R321 million.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said that the two former auditors and runner had been charged for tax fraud in contravention of the Value Added Tax Act, as well as the Customs and Excise Act for an actual financial loss to SARS of more than R277 million. He said a further loss of R44 million had already discovered and recovered through a police investigation into the tax evasion in conjunction with SARS. 

“During the period between 2013 and 2016, SARS investigators identified extensive VAT fraud with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES) sectors registered as VAT merchants,” he said.

“The fraud related to the claiming of undue VAT refunds from SARS, money laundering pertaining to these companies and their directors working in cahoots.”

Wide network involved in tax evasion fraud

He said that the Hawks investigation had uncovered that the tax evasion syndicate involved more than twenty individuals and various companies. “Tax payers, runners, SARS current and former employees, as well as bank employees were also caught up in the web of deceit,” he said.

“Most of the fraudulent invoices were uploaded from the SARS branch in Randfontein where some of the implicated suspects were based,” he added.

“The trio and runner were granted  R10 000 bail each and the case was postponed to 13 July 2021 pending further investigation, while the Hawks circle for the rest of the suspects,” Ramovha said.

The South African