The South African Revenue Services (SARS) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has told Parliament that they are currently profiling 307 cases with a revenue loss of about R300 million related to COVID-19 procurement.
Kieswetter says the revenue service has also been requested by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in the Free State to help with its probe of 300 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) cases. He says they have additionally identified 139 companies with potential tax evasion offences.
The Commissioner was part of a briefing by the inter-ministerial committee appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to deal with allegations of corruption in government linked to COVID-19 funds.
He says they have found many businesses that were previously not registered for the provision of PPEs that were allocated contracts.
“We found providers that are registered as pubs, as IT companies, as car washing companies, as property letting companies, as bakeries and event management companies. And they’ve all been successful, notwithstanding their inexperience in providing PPEs to government. 17 of those tenders involved politically exposed persons to the value of R1.2 billion.”
The SIU says it is probing 658 companies or contracts, totalling more than R5 billion, in connection with government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows allegations of wide spread corruption in the supply of PPEs countrywide.
The Unit says its investigations cover contracts awarded by national, provincial and local government.
In its virtual briefing to SCOPA, the Unit’s Head Andy Mothibi says they will update President Ramaphosa about the progress of their investigation at six-week intervals. He says although they are moving with speed, they don’t want to compromise investigations.
“The speed indeed is of essence and the teams are on term with regard to speed and of course we always say we investigate with speed but we also do not want to compromise the investigations.”