News24

Sars revelations: Lawyer silent on spy claims

2014-08-10 15:50

Johannesburg - The lawyer who laid a complaint against Sars group executive Johann van Loggenberg after their relationship ended refused on Sunday to comment on reports that she was a State Security Agency spy.

"I don't want to comment and I will be issuing a summons against City Press," Belinda Walter told Sapa.

According to City Press, in her complaint to SA Revenue Services (Sars) Walter called Van Loggenberg "mentally ill, unstable, corrupt".

Special operations unit

The relationship between the two had reportedly gone sour when Van Loggenberg discovered that Walter was acting as a lawyer for the alleged tobacco smugglers he and Sars were investigating for tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.

Walter confessed to Van Loggenberg that she was also working as a spy for a unit of the State Security Agency (SSA).

The couple broke up in May this year and Van Loggenberg went through hundreds of text messages he helped her retrieve as a favour and started to piece together the existence of a special operations unit within the SSA, according to the newspaper.

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 NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, and replacing Sars top management.

Complaint

Sars on Sunday confirmed that Walter had laid the complaint against Loggenberg, which was later withdrawn.

"Whenever Sars receives a complaint of unbecoming behaviour on the part of any of its officials, [it] always seeks to verify the facts surrounding the complaint to determine whether or not a complaint warrants further action," spokesperson Adrian Lackay said.

During the course of this year, attorney Belinda Walter had sent a series of e-mails to SA Revenue Services (Sars) officials complaining about Van Loggenberg.

"To put it mildly her allegations were alarmist and possibly defamatory," Lackay said.

"Sars afforded the complainant the opportunity to substantiate the allegations."

Lackay said Sars established a review panel which looked into Walter's complaint. It was chaired by independent, external legal counsel, Sars anti-corruption division head and the head of the internal audit division, to assess the allegations.

Walter appeared before the panel, however, she did not supply it with relevant facts and refused to put her allegations into a sworn affidavit.

"If the complainant and connected individuals, who are peddling the same allegations to the media, would instead present Sars with credible information, Sars would treat the allegations seriously," he said.

Walter withdrew her complaint against Van Loggenberg "without prejudice".

Dirty tricks

Lackay said Sars was aware of attempts to tarnish the integrity of some of its officials involved in the investigation into the tobacco industry, and wrote to representative bodies alerting them to the untoward practices by some in the industry.

"Sars now possesses significant and credible evidence showing incidents of spying, 'double-agents', dirty tricks, leaking false allegations and discrediting Sars officials by the complainant referred to above, and connected individuals dating as far back as 2010," he said.

Sars and Van Loggenberg, in his personal capacity were collaborating with investigations by the Hawks and state security into the matter.

"We are confident that soon many of the undesirable practices in the industry will come to light and the individuals concerned will be held to account," said Lackay.

No Sars officials have resigned as a result of the allegations.

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