Investigators from the SARS Customs Anti-Smuggling Unit, together with the South African Police Service today arrested a 61 year old suspect who attempted to bribe a SARS investigator.
The arrest follows a high-profile seizure operation earlier this week in Germiston on the East Rand when Customs investigators made a significant breakthrough in the operations of what is believed to be a syndicate specialising in the illicit trade of counterfeit goods.
By Tuesday evening SARS had sealed off 130 storage units in an industrial area in Germiston where 1 500 cartons of master case cigarettes, with an estimated street value of R4.7 million and 1 900 counterfeit DVDs, computer and Playstation games, with an estimated street value of R3 million, was discovered.
Investigations continued and during the past 48 hours the suspect, believed to be a British national, contacted a SARS investigator and offered to pay a bribe of R600 000 (six hundred thousand rand) in order to avoid arrest.
Together with SAPS arrangements were made for a meeting. The meeting took place at a venue in Bruma, Johannesburg. The suspect was apprehended when the money was handed over. According to the suspect the amount totals R600 000.
The suspect was in possession of a British passport and has a business registered in Zimbabwe. Investigators also seized his motor vehicle with a Zimbabwean registration.
Likely charges at this stage may include attempting to corrupt a state official.
More arrests are likely.
This week's seizures and today's arrest demonstrate SARS' commitment to eradicate corruption in the import and export environment. The seized goods, totaling more than R7 million, would have presented a major threat to the fiscus in the form of lost revenues (Value Added Tax).
The suspect is expected to appear in court soon.
For further media enquires, please contact Adrian Lackay 083 388 2580, SARS Communications.
ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE