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South Africa

“But I believe it is in the public interest that I provide them (special anti-crime unit the Hawks) with information I have at hand,” Gordhan said in a statement, adding that he has “decided to cooperate fully”.

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South Africa

The Hawks threatened two weeks ago to exercise constitutional powers to investigate Gordhan over allegations about the “rogue unit” at the SA Revenue Services (SARS).

The Hawks, also known as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), made the threat after Gordhan failed to meet the second deadline for answering questions regarding the “rogue unit”.

The “rogue unit” reportedly used millions of rand to spy on taxpayers.

Gordhan was SARS commissioner between 1999 and 2009, during which time the unit was established.

In his statement, Gordhan said the unit was lawfully established to perform very important functions for and on behalf of SARS.

This was in line with tax laws which have always vested SARS with wide powers for the investigation of tax matters, including the investigation of crimes with tax implications, the minister said.

During his time as SARS commissioner, the Unit employed 26 odd people, a miniscule part of the 15,000 staff compliment of SARS, according to Gordhan.

“As far as I was aware, the Unit lawfully performed its functions. I was not personally involved in the recruitment of its members, but I am told that the process was in accordance with SARS policy. If it or any of its members engaged in unlawful activities, then they did so without my knowledge or consent,” he added.

These are challenging economic times in South Africa and in the world, Gordhan said, indicating that this matter should be put to an end.

“Our biggest challenge as a nation is to ensure that we are able to grow this economy so we can create jobs for our people and make inroads in addressing poverty. That is the work I would like to focus on with the National Treasury team,” he said.

The investigation is taking place as rating agency Moody’s is assessing whether to downgrade South Africa’s sovereign rating to junk status. The spat between Gordhan and the Hawks added uneasiness among investors. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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