Rand plunges as Gordhan issued with summons

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Pretoria, 16 May 2016 - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is not in danger of being arrested -at least not for now. NPA head Shaun Abrahams says reports that Gordhan is about to be arrested in connection with the so-called SARS rogue unit case are totally.

PRETORIA - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) issued Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan with a formal summons on Tuesday, in the ongoing, politically-charged investigation into an intelligence unit within the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

NPA head Shaun Abrahams told the media that Gordhan and two other former top SARS officials were due to appear in the Pretoria Regional Court on November 2. The trusted finance minister and his co-accused will face fraud charges, he said.

LIVE: Pravin Gordhan summoned to appear in court

The result has left the rand reeling.

 

 

The currency fell as much as 3 percent when NPA head, Shaun Abrahams made his first announcement at a media briefing in Pretoria.

The currency then extended its falls, trading at 14.2950 against the dollar at 0833 GMT, a 3.5 percent decline.

 

 

Abrahams said the Hawks investigation into the SARS high risk investigation unit, was at an advanced stage and “at this stage is ongoing”.

Gordhan has been at the centre of the probe into whether or not there was a contravention of the Intelligence Act when the so-called rogue spy unit was established more than a decade ago to probe illicit finance deals.

Gordhan has painted the allegations about his role in this as "political mischief" but said prosecution officials delivered a summons to his house on Tuesday morning.

READ: Firing Gordhan would 'destroy economy' - Manuel

He was not at home at the time, he told reporters, adding that his lawyers would be issuing a statement shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

Abrahams denied any mischief in the handling of the case, saying the surveillance unit was set up in a "very strange manner" and had not been cleared by the national intelligence services.

He said investigations had also shown that former SARS official Ivan Pillay’s early retirement with full benefits from September 2010 should not have been approved as he was subsequently employed on a five year contract from January the following year.

Abrahams said Gordhan had, during the course of the investigation, responded that he had approved this on the recommendation of former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula.

Magashula, Gordhan and Pillay will be arraigned for the following: “fraud in respect of the R1,141,178 whereby the aforementioned persons had misrepresented to the government employment pension fund and to SARS that Mr Pillay was entitled to full pension benefits… whereas in fact the severance package was not applicable to Mr Pillay”.

Magasula will face a charge in relation to the contravention of the Finance Management Act as he allegedy allowed SARS to “incur unauthorised and wasteful expenditure” in granting Pillay the package.

Pillay and Magashula will face a further charge of fraud in relation to the employment contract of five years.

Pillay and Gordhan will face a further charge in relation to the extension of the employment contract.

Gordhan has been targeted by the Hawks since his re-appointment to the finance portfolio late last year, with the unit demanding days before he delivered the national budget in February that he answer a list of questions relating to the intelligence unit.

The investigation has been described by observers as an attempt to destabilise him in a battle over state funds. - Additional reporting: African News Agency