Pretoria – Three men, accused of fraudulently claiming value added tax (VAT) refunds to the value of approximately R300m, were sentenced in the Gauteng South High Court on Wednesday to a total of 95 years imprisonment.
It involved 25 years for fraud; 25 years for uttering (the passing or making use of a forged writing or document with knowledge of its forged nature); 25 years for forgery; and 20 years for money laundering. The sentences will run concurrently. This means that each of the accused will spend 25 years in prison.
The VAT fraud, as well as other criminal activity, took place under the pretext that electronic equipment was being imported from the US and then exported again. This practice was used in 18 different companies, where the accused were directors, to elicit approximately R300m in VAT refunds from the SA Revenue Service (SARS).
The accused, Anton Meyer, Garth Coetser and Clifford Stevens, were charged with fraud and contravening the Value Added Tax Act.
According to SARS this successful prosecution demonstrates that it has the skills, experience and determination to effectively detect non-compliance by taxpayers and ensure such perpetrators face the full might of the law.
SARS said it should serve as a strong warning to anyone who attempts to avoid tax obligations through irregular means.