Tax-fraud syndicate member gets 8 years

02 December 2010 - 01:56 By CHANDRÉ PRINCE
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The first member of a tax-fraud syndicate to be sentenced for swindling R78-million out of the SA Revenue Service was this week sent to prison for eight years.

Pakistani Zaheer Seedat, 36, also known as Imran Abbas, was sentenced on Tuesday after a two-year investigation of corruption, fraud and money laundering by Sars and the police's Hawks unit.

Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay said yesterday that Seedat was part of the Naqvi syndicate of Pakistanis and South Africans.

Seedat, who lived in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, and eight other alleged members of the syndicate fraudulently diverted tax refunds of four international companies - SBC International Management Services, Sun Microsystems, Boston Scientific (South Africa) and All Pay Western Cape - into duplicate companies fraudulently registered with the Department of Trade and Industry's Companies Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro).

Seedat, who obtained false identity documents in South Africa, was arrested in August and pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud in September.

Lackay said tax refunds totalling R78-million were paid to the four fake companies but Sars had recovered R26-million and state agencies were trying to recover the rest.

The syndicate members' methods included posing as directors of the fraudulently registered companies and then opening banking accounts for the companies.

In his guilty plea, Seedat described some of the syndicate's lucrative schemes, but claimed that, though he willingly participated in the crimes, he received little of the proceeds.

Other alleged syndicate members are:

  • Alleged leader Aliraza Syed Naqvi, arrested in June last year, denied bail and still in custody.
  • Jabulani Freddy Sewela, arrested in October last year and denied bail. He appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal for bail; judgment was reserved last week.
  • Carol Ann Dhludhlu was arrested in October last year. She was denied bail but was granted bail of R20 000 on appeal.
  • Mazhar Raza Syed, arrested last year, was denied bail and remains in custody.
  • Samuel Gouwe, a GijimaAst employee. He pleaded guilty to theft and corruption and will be sentenced shortly.
  • Audelia Makhubu, a Sars employee arrested in November last year, pleaded guilty and was released on bail. A warrant for her arrest was issued when she failed to appear in court last week.
  • Freddy Gabaza, arrested in March and denied bail. He died in custody.
  • Pabalo Leticia Mofokeng, arrested and released on R20 00 bail. Her case has been set down for trial in the Randburg Regional Court from March 7 to 11.
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