MEDIA RELEASE: NUGENT INQUIRY CONFIRMS ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS OPERATE WITH IMPUNITY
For Immediate Release
17 October 2018
#TakeBackTheTax welcomes the publication of the Nugent Inquiry report which confirms what it has been telling the public all along – that there is rampant tax evasion in the tobacco industry – as a direct result of Tom Moyane’s devastation of SARS.
In his report, Judge Nugent found: “Measures to counter criminality have been compromised and those who trade illicitly in commodities like tobacco operate with little constraint.”
Testimony after testimony detailed how the suspended SARS commissioner and his acolytes protected illegal cigarette makers in South Africa.
As early as June, former Chief Officer, Gene Ravele, testified that the decline in tax revenue from tobacco was “planned” and that investigators were instructed to stop inspecting cigarette factories.
Last month it was revealed that in 2016, Moyane failed to investigate intelligence that one of his top officials was colluding with a known tobacco smuggler and instead sanctioned the hounding out of SARS of Yousef Denath, the man who had brought the matter to his attention, and Kumaren Moodley, once described as “the last Jedi” in the fight against illicit trade.
The cost of this corruption is clear.
The Nugent Report states “those who trade in illicit tobacco operate with little constraint” and there is a “material and ongoing loss of revenue from tobacco related taxes for want of investigation and vastly diminished regulation of the illicit economy”.
This also follows the release of the IPSOS report in July which exposed that cheap, illegal cigarettes sell for between R5 – R10 in three out of every four informal shops in the country.
The brands are being openly sold and authorities know who the culprits are.
#TakeBackTheTax is demanding an immediate clampdown.
The cost to the fiscus is at least R7 billion a year and possibly much more.
According to #TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, “we feel vindicated by the findings of the Nugent report and believe there is no better time for new SARS Commissioner, Mark Kingon, to commit to prioritising this matter and dealing with it immediately.
“Kingon has vowed to take action and now that the SARS Inquiry has confirmed that illicit traders continue to operate with impunity, he must end it now.”
Abramjee also called on all South Africans to sign the #TakeBackTheTax petition which calls on Government to act with urgency and clamp down on the trade of illegal cigarettes.
“Over 17 000 people have now signed up, and their voices cannot and should not be ignored. We are now demanding action.
“South Africa needs its money back,” said Abramjee.
Citizens have been urged to continue to support the #TakeBackTheTax campaign by signing their names at takebackthetax.org