Rogue SARS unit was real, and was spying on taxpayers

A new report by KPMG has confirmed that the rogue SARS spy unit was real, and that it was spying on South Africans and operating outside the law. This is according to the Sunday Times.

The paper first reported on the “spy unit” in early 2015, with the latest findings from KPMG showing that SARS spent R106 million of taxpayers’ money running the unit.

This includes travel expenses, claims, bonuses, and annual leave payments.

Previous reports by the Sunday Times claimed that members of the unit had submitted affidavits confessing to being paid millions to illegally spy on NPA members.

It was also revealed that the unit used software to spy on their computer activities and cellphone use.

According to the latest audit, several high-level executives – including former finance minister Pravin Gordhan – should be held accountable.

Gordhan was SARS commissioner between 1999 and 2009 – during which time the SARS spy unit was established.

The report also suggests that former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay faces possible criminal action, as his denial to the public protector that the unit ever existed constitutes criminal liability.

SARS also mislead the State Security Agency, the report said.

According to the paper, the KPMG report highlighted the following:

  • The unit operated outside of SARS’ oversight and controls
  • Members of the unit were referred to as “ghost employees”
  • Agents unlawfully intercepted communications of taxpayers
  • Agents spied on the NPA at Pillay’s request

Gordhan, Pillay, and other executives named in the findings have denied the allegations, it was reported.

You can read the full story in the Sunday Times, 4 October 2015 edition.

More on SARS spying

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Secret SARS unit spied on cellphones

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Rogue SARS unit was real, and was spying on taxpayers