South Africa

Businessman goes to jail for filing fake invoices with SARS

A Durban businessman has been sentenced to jail after he was found guilty of a raft of charges for stealing from the tax man.

Manivasen Govender, 47, was sentenced to an effective six years in jail in the Durban Magistrates’ Court two weeks ago after he pleaded guilty to 19 counts of fraud against the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The offences occurred in Durban between October 2010 and February 2014. He pleaded guilty to the offences which resulted in the court handing down a lighter sentence than he could have got for his crimes against SARS.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, said that Govender had filed VAT returns for his business but had under declared its turnover. 

“Govender filed VAT returns for his company, of which he was the sole member. He was paid approximately R3. 8 million in tax refunds. However, an investigation by SARS showed that there was an under-declaration of turnover when his bank statements were compared to the declarations that he made,” Ramkisson-Kara said.

“Further investigations revealed that Govender submitted fictitious invoices to SARS in support of his claims. He had generated and provided invoices from his brother’s company that were prepared by himself to inflate the VAT paid to suppliers,” she said.

She said SARS had lost a total of R8,8 million due to his filing of fraudulent invoices.

‘“The prejudice suffered by SARS was about R8,8 million. The Asset Forfeiture Unit, represented by Advocate Rajendrie Naidoo obtained a confiscation order in terms of Section 18 of POCA to the value of R 90 000,” Ramkisson-Kara added.

During sentencing, the court deviated from the minimum sentence of 15 years because Govender had pleaded guilty. The court saw this as a substantial and compelling reason to deviate.   State Advocate, Nirvana Rambali prosecuted the matter.

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