Parliament – The South African Revenue Service has revealed that it paid out almost R20 million in settlements to its former top officials, including Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg, who face possible charges over the rogue Sars unit.
In a written reply to Parliament on Monday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said 13 officials had left Sars over the past few years.
However, he could not give the names of the officials due to confidentiality concerns, it is known that Pillay left Sars in May last year and Van Loggerenberg quit in February 2015.
The other senior officials who left Sars are former head of strategy Peter Richer and former head of tax and customs-enforcement investigations Gene Ravele.
Both Richer and Ravele left Sars in May last year.
In the 2015/16 financial year, Sars paid out R9m in settlement agreements with its top officials. The amount involved is for three senior officials.
“Due to confidentiality provisions of these agreements, as well as protection of personal information governed by the Protection of Personal Information Act, Sars is prohibited from disclosing employee- specific information regarding the agreements with regard to the names of the individuals concerned, the positions held, the date of separation, reasons for the settlement and the individual amounts involved,” said Sars.
In the 2014/15 financial year, Sars paid out R1.6m to two top officials at the agency.
In 2010/11, Sars settled for an amount of R3m with three officials, and it paid out one senior official R3.1m in 2007/2008.
The agency also told Parliament it settled for R1.6m with two officials during the 2008/9 financial year.
Sars has over the past few years been rocked by allegations regarding the spy unit.
Gordhan was the head of Sars for 10 years before he left in 2009 to join the cabinet. He has refused to hand himself over to the Hawks, saying he has not done anything wrong.
Pillay and Van Loggerenberg last month presented themselves to the Hawks for a warning statement over the rogue unit at Sars.
The two men received backing from civil society three weeks ago, including well-known advocate George Bizos, over their prosecution.
The Hawks have sent their docket on Gordhan, Pillay and Van Loggerenberg to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision on whether to proceed with the prosecution of the three men.
The NPA has said its prosecutors were still studying the docket before taking any decision on whether to prosecute.
But civil society and business have backed the officials and Gordhan, saying this was a war against the minister of finance in order to capture the National Treasury.