Nine syndicate members in court for R90m VAT fraud

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The nine members of a syndicate suspected of operating a large-scale value-added tax (VAT) fraud scam amounting to more than R90 million are expected to appear in court this morning.

The nine suspects – eight men and a woman between the ages of 35 and 70 years – were arrested by the Hawks at their homes in upmarket residential areas in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Hawks Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the operation was planned with the assistance of the Hawks’ Cyber Crime, Commercial Crime and the South African Police Service (SAPS) Tactical Response Units, following an investigation by SARS criminal investigators.

The SARS investigation revealed that the syndicate, which included a bookkeeper in Durban and Benoni respectively, allegedly claimed R99 million fraudulent refunds through 15 registered, but fictitious VAT vendors.

False VAT vendor details, with fraudulent supporting documents, were used to register the vendors, said Mulaudzi.

“SARS had paid out approximately R30.6 million before the scam was uncovered and further payments stopped. The proceeds of the scam were deposited in bank accounts from where the money was allegedly laundered through at least 35 so-called suppliers,” Mulaudzi said.

During the search, the Hawks seized an AK47 and a pistol, of which the serial number had been filed off, approximately, R250 000 in cash and several gold bars, as well as Kruger rands worth millions of rands and bags full of possibly incriminating documents.

Documents seized include identity documents and bank cards of the people who had been registered as VAT vendors, as well as a Maserati and a Mercedes Benz Gelandewagen.

The suspects are expected to appear in the commercial crime courts in Durban and Pretoria this morning. -

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