Tax adviser in R690‚000 swindle gets five years behind bars

05 September 2018 - 11:33 By Philani Nombembe
A Cape Town tax practitioner jailed after he pocketed more than R41‚000 he defrauded from SARS. File photo.
A Cape Town tax practitioner jailed after he pocketed more than R41‚000 he defrauded from SARS. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A Cape Town tax practitioner has been jailed for five years for defrauding the South African Revenue Service of more than R690‚000.

According to the prosecutor‚ advocate Lunga Ntshokoma of the specialised tax unit‚ Bantam swindled the taxman over a year while working for a reputable chartered accounting firm.

He pocketed more than R41‚000 – the amount that could be traced to his wife’s bank account.

Ntshokoma said‚ unbeknown to his employer‚ Bantam‚ from Mitchells Plain‚ recruited 28 taxpayers around Cape Town and claimed fraudulent tax returns on their behalf. He registered them through e-filing and claimed business losses‚ medical expenses and deductions for retirement annuity fund contributions.

In some instances‚ he inflated medical expenses for medicines purchased over the counter. Some of the tax returns dated as far back as 2003.

“When Sars asked for supporting documentations‚ he generated fictitious financial statements and submitted them to Sars as proof that the taxpayers had businesses‚” said Ntshokoma.

“On the strength of the information‚ Sars paid refunds to the taxpayers to which they were not entitled. For each refund [Bantam] was paid a percentage. Some of the money was paid into his wife’s bank account and some paid in cash.”

Ntshokoma said Bantam was driven by greed and abused his knowledge. He said Bantam’s attempts to stay out of jail by telling the court he is the co-primary caregiver to two children aged 10 and seven were unsuccessful.

“He indicated before court that he was heavily involved in the wellbeing of the children and his wife was working longer hours. However‚ the court was of the view that the children would not be worse off if [Bantam] goes to jail as the wife will take care of the children‚” said Ntshokoma.

“This sentence sends a strong message to other tax practitioners that are doing the same thing to the illiterate taxpayers.”

Nine days earlier‚ the court sentenced another tax practitioner‚ Ivor Carolissen‚ to four years’ imprisonment after convicting him on more than 300 counts including fraud. The sentence was wholly suspended and replaced with house arrest‚ and he was also ordered to perform community service.

Carolissen also received a further 12 months direct imprisonment which was wholly suspended for five years for failing to submit income tax returns.

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