NPA charges Pravin Gordhan with fraud
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has questioned the timing of the NPA’s decision to lay charges against him. The charges come two weeks before he delivers his mid-term budget. The minister continues to suggest that the allegations are what he calls “political mischief.”
National Prosecutions Authority head Shaun Abrahams has disputed the allegations. Abrahams urged the media to wait for the outcome of the court proceedings. At the sametime , there is already talk of plans to have him removed from office. Political analyst Prince Mashele believes there is a clique led by President Jacob Zuma that intends to have the minister fired.
Gordhan has been summoned to appear in court for his role in the so-called Sars rogue unit. The minister has been facing claims relating to a possible breach of the Intelligence Act for being involved in the formation of the unit when he was the commissioner at the SA Revenue service. Summons have also been issued for former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula and former deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay.
On the news of the charges, the rand fell by three percent.The local currency came under pressure and traded at R14, 21 against the dollar from R13,90 shortly before the news broke. Economist Xanti Payi says rating agencies will be looking at South Africa’ closely amid fears of a downgrade.
The SARS rogue unit dates back to 2007 when Pravin Gordhan was commissioner of the tax revenue service. In that year, Gordhan oversaw the establishment of a unit called the National Research Group.
The minister has previously said that the unit was established to make sure taxpayers complied with tax laws. Since the first red flags on the Rogue Unit emerged, the Kroon Commission, the Kanyane Panel, the Sikhakhane Panel and the KPMG report have looked into the unit.
The Sikhakhane Panel found that the unit illegally bugged taxpayers’ phones and intercepted their conversations. It was after this panel that SARS boss Tom Moyane shut the unit down. Critics believe that by discrediting Gordhan, the finance ministry may be headed by someone who could overlook both Gupta deals and the affairs of state-owned enterprises.
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