Former finance minister Malusi Gigaba told the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) that he signed off on a mysterious trip now suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane took to Russia in 2017, even though the commissioner did not explain its purpose.
It appears proper procedures weren’t followed.
Gigaba said he usually did not ask for details when permission was requested, as he expected a report afterwards. If the information provided to him was wrong, disciplinary action would be taken.
Details of Moyane’s trip to Russia came to light yesterday when evidence leader Carol Steinberg read a submission by acting commissioner Mark Kingon.
According to the submission, on November 18 2017 Moyane requested urgent approval to go to Moscow from November 18 to 23. He signed the request on November 17 and Gigaba approved it the next day.
According to the request, there was an “urgent need” for him to meet with the Russian Federal Tax Service boss to sign off on “a tax matter”.
Protocol dictates that when the commissioner travels internationally a request is received from a foreign jurisdiction. Once the invite is received, the foreign travel submission is prepared.
According to Kingon’s submission, ministerial approval was granted with almost no information about the trip, apart from that Moyane had to “sign off on a tax matter”.
The Sars international relations team had not been aware of it, the ministry had no information and an effort to obtain input from Moyane had been unsuccessful.
The submission continues: “The circumstances and secrecy of this trip are very suspicious and if no specific matter was addressed, such expenditure is fruitless and wasteful and would be in breach of the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act].”
Gigaba said, as the trip was urgent and some tax issues were confidential, he approved it expecting a report afterwards. He did not get feedback from Moyane afterwards.