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SARS and law enforcement's crackdown on coal syndicates

MEDIA STATEMENT _____________________________________________________________________ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PUBLIC INTEREST SA APPLAUDS SARS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT'S CRACKDOWN ON COAL SYNDICATES

Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, 13 October 2023 – Public Interest SA welcomes the recent joint operation by SARS and law enforcement agencies to dismantle the coal syndicates that have been depriving our nation of crucial tax revenue, contributing to the growth of criminal elements, and worsening South Africa's challenges, as highlighted by the FATF's adverse findings. This significant operation demonstrates the power of collective government efforts in safeguarding the economic and personal well-being of our citizens. The operation, conducted across five provinces, represents an impressive display of inter- governmental cooperation. We commend the NATJOINTS Energy Safety & Security Priority Committee for their dedication to unveiling and prosecuting those responsible for causing economic and personal hardships. It is their tireless work, often in the shadows, that results in breakthroughs like this, allowing South Africa an opportunity to regain a lifestyle free from load shedding and preventing the loss of much-needed revenue to National Treasury, in this case, over R500 million.

The alleged coal-smugglers and their associated entities, operating in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, and Limpopo, have caused severe damage to our country. Their actions, including procurement fraud and the diversion of high-grade coal, have led to various tax violations such as non-registration for Income Tax, VAT, and PAYE, failure to submit tax returns, under-declaration of income, unjust VAT refunds, and fraudulent submissions. It is evident that their network is both local and international, engaging in the smuggling of high-grade coal while replacing it with low-quality or substandard coal at designated coal yards.

The consequences of their actions are far-reaching, as the low-grade coal damages vital infrastructure at Eskom power stations, exacerbating the already critical energy crisis. This crisis has far-reaching implications, harming businesses, undermining foreign direct investment, and resulting in job losses, which, in turn, affect revenue collection. We commend SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter for recognising the gravity of this issue and praising our law enforcement agencies for this substantial breakthrough. His words, emphasising the impact of greed on our nation and the importance of unwavering commitment to combating criminality, resonate with our mission to create a better South Africa.

Public Interest SA supports SARS and all law enforcement agencies in their dedication to eradicating organised crime and bringing those responsible to justice. This operation sends a clear and unambiguous message to all involved in such activities: You will be pursued and held accountable for your actions. We look forward to more collaborative efforts like this in the future, including fighting illicit cigarette and gold smuggling syndicates which frustrate this nation’s strides to building a brighter, more just, and more prosperous South Africa for all its citizens. END/

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ABOUT PUBLIC INTEREST SA | www.publicinterest.org.za Public Interest SA is a dedicated advocacy organisation committed to advancing the well- being of South Africa's citizens. We actively support and applaud law enforcement agencies in dismantling criminal syndicates, recovering vital tax revenue, and combating organised crime and illicit markets to create a more just and prosperous South Africa for all. For further information or media inquiries, please contact: Cassandra Kau | media@publicinterest.org.za | 010 005 5884

For confidential whistleblowing, send detailed information to whistleblowing@publicinterest.org.za

ISSUED BY: TEBOGO KHAAS for the public @propublicasa



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