Sars slaps Malema with R16m bill

JOHANNESBURG - The taxman has added to former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s mounting troubles.

Last week, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) obtained a R16m judgment against Malema for unpaid taxes.

Sars is about to seize property and assets belonging to the controversial politician in Gauteng and Limpopo, City Press understands.

Malema did not oppose the application and Sars obtained the judgment in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on September 11.

Sars is targeting four of his properties: a half-built mansion in Sandown, Joburg; a farm and a smallholding in Limpopo; and a house in Polokwane. Malema ignored all attempts to get comment. His lawyer, Nicqui Galaktiou, said Malema should be treated like “all other citizens in this country, whose tax affairs are secret”.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay confirmed the taxman had obtained a judgment against Malema for R16m.
He said the amount included unpaid taxes, penalties and interest. Lackay said he could only confirm the judgment because it was obtained in an open court.

He would not reveal any further details of Malema’s tax affairs because a “taxpayer’s confidentiality is a legal obligation imposed on Sars”.

The file relating to the judgment — which is a public document — was not available in the court archives this week.

The office of the registrar at court in Pretoria also confirmed that Sars obtained a judgment against Malema last Tuesday for an amount of R16m. Tax law consultant and advocate Alan Lewis said the judgment showed two things: Malema has a “hell of a lot of money” and he is in deep trouble.

Lewis, a former Sars employee, said the revenue service would now most likely hand the judgment to a sheriff of the court, who will attach Malema’s properties and assets.

Sars started scrutinising Malema’s tax affairs last year after it was revealed that companies he was linked to had controversially obtained lucrative contracts from the Limpopo provincial government.

Millions of rands were channelled through Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust.

The trust also holds shares in the controversial On-Point Engineers, the company at the centre of  allegations regarding dodgy contracts with the Limpopo government.

Media24 Investigations understands that Sars investigated Malema’s links to 19 companies and subpoenaed a host of business associates.

Malema was presented with a Sars tax assessment of about R12m in April, but he ignored it and made no effort to contact Sars or to reach any agreement with them.

He also gave no indication that he disputes the assessment or plans to appeal it in the tax court.

Sars only obtains a judgment once it has exhausted all avenues to persuade a tax offender to settle his unpaid tax bill.

“Tax problems don’t go away,” said Lewis.

“The taxman wants his money and I’m afraid there’s very little Malema can do now. He’s going to be R16m poorer.”

Lewis says it is difficult to deduce from the judgment what Malema’s income was because penalties would have been added for his failure to submit tax returns or declare income.

Sars can, in extreme circumstances, add up to 200 percent in penalties.

However, he said that Malema’s income must have been -“substantial”. The sheriff’s office in Sandton, where Malema’s half-built mansion stands, said it does not speak to the media about cases.

Malema has consistently denied that any money was laundered through his family trust and claimed his tax affairs were in order.

In 2007, Malema bought his first house in Polokwane’s modest suburb of Flora Park for R1m with a bank bond that has since been cleared.

In August last year, Malema bought the farm Schuilkraal near Polokwane for R3,5m. He put down an R800 000 cash deposit.

His trust also owns a smallholding near Palmietfontein in Limpopo, which he bought for R900 000 in cash.

According to reports last year, Malema was building a house worth R16m in Sandown, Joburg.

The house was being built on the site of a R3,6m house he bought in 2009.

He levelled that house to build the new one.

He has also carried out extensive work on his grandmother’s home in Seshego, transforming it into a double-storey property. — City Press

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