The South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) threatened on Friday to take criminal action against those who revealed President Jacob Zuma’s tax information.
This came after the Sunday Times newspaper last week published excerpts from a book called “The President’s Keepers,” which claims that Zuma received a “salary” of 1 million rand (about 70,000 U.S. dollars) a month from a controversial tender mogul without declaring it to the SARS.
The book also alleges that SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane is aiding Zuma to avoid his tax obligations.
“SARS wishes to categorically state that it is deeply concerned about the publication of confidential taxpayer information” in contravention of the Tax Administration Act (TAA), which prohibits the disclosure of taxpayer information by a SARS official or former SARS official, the agency said in a statement.
Further, the TAA prohibits the disclosure of confidential taxpayer information outside judicial processes and in particular an Order of the High Court, said the agency.
As a result, SARS is duty-bound to address the violation of the TAA by Jacques Pauw, author of the book, the agency said.
“SARS views the publication of confidential taxpayer information through Mr. Pauw’s book and the Sunday Times as unlawful and a criminal offence in terms of Section 236 of the TAA,” the agency said.
Thus SARS is seeking legal advice on what steps to take, including but not limited to criminal and civil investigation against Pauw and the Sunday Times into the circumstances pertaining to the unlawful disclosure of confidential taxpayer information, said the agency.
In a related development on Friday, the State Security Agency (SSA) has initiated an investigation into Pauw and his publisher over violation of the Intelligence Services Act.
NB Publishers, who last week released Pauw’s book, said they have received a cease and desist letter from the SSA, demanding that they withdraw the book from stores, as well as retract certain parts of the book.
“As our client is constitutionally mandated to ensure the security of the State and protect the identity of its members and agents, it has a duty to act in instances where such security is breached either by disclosure of its legitimate operational methods, classified documents, as well as the identity of its agents,” said the letter.
The SSA threatened to go to court to get an interdict preventing NB Publishers from further distribution, further printing, publishing or promotion of the book” should they refuse to withdraw it from book shops.
Criminal charges would also be laid against Pauw and any other individual concerned in relation to those parts of the book which are in violation of the relevant statutes, the SSA said. Enditem