“To safeguard the integrity of Sars and its processes… I have appointed Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, SC, to lead an external committee of Investigation into complaints of impropriety against Mr Johann van Loggerenberg,” acting Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay said.
“Mr Van Loggerenberg has been placed on special leave.”
He held the position of Sars group executive for tax and customs investigations.
The complaint against him was made by attorney Belinda Walter.
“The details of their relationship and complaints against the respective parties have been widely reported on in the media over recent weeks,” Pillay said.
It was reported last month that Walter laid a complaint against Van Loggerenberg after their relationship ended in May.
Their relationship allegedly went sour when Van Loggerenberg discovered that Walter was acting as a lawyer for alleged tobacco smugglers he and Sars were investigating for tax evasion, fraud, and money laundering.
According to reports, Walter allegedly confessed to Van Loggerenberg that she was also working as a spy for a unit of the State Security Agency, which was investigating the same tobacco smugglers Sars was probing.
The unit, which reportedly operated from a house in Pretoria east, had worked with the alleged tobacco smugglers. Convicted drug trafficker Glen Agliotti, who testified against former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, allegedly recruited the smugglers.
The group also allegedly had a hand in trying to reinstate former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and the ousting of National Prosecuting Authority prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach.
Pillay said that Sars established a review panel in June to verify the facts surrounding Walter’s complaint.
“Although the panel of review did not prove any wrongdoing or breaches of the law on Mr Van Loggerenberg’s part, I consider it paramount to further investigate the issues that were raised in Ms Walter’s complaint so as to safeguard the integrity of Sars and the trust the South African public has bestowed on our institution,” he said.
“Therefore, I have decided that a new and completely external committee be mandated to delve into the observations made by the previous panel of review.”
The committee was instructed to conclude its investigation and present its finding to Pillay within 45 days of being established, “unless compelling circumstances dictate otherwise”.
“As chairperson, Advocate Sikhakhane will exercise his discretion to appoint any independent Junior Counsel as well as any independent attorney at law to assist the committee in the execution of its duties,” he said.
“The findings of this committee of investigation will be made public. Sars will not make further public statements on the matter at this stage.”