29 August 2013
“When this tax dispute arose many years ago, I took a conscious decision not to cooperate with the authorities. That was a mistake.”
These were the words of businessman Dave King shortly after entering into a settlement agreement with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) following a protracted legal battle, spanning a number of years, over his failure to disclose his income.
In a joint statement with Sars on Thursday, King said: “I regret not engaging with the state sooner as I have found them to be extremely firm but fair in their dealings with me once I fully engaged with them. I accept the fact that I have been non-compliant in the past and will rectify this.”
King, together with entities associated to him, entered into a plea and sentencing bargain with the revenue service at the Palmridge Regional Court on the same day.
As part of the settlement, King is to pay a fine of R3.2-million (R80 000 per count) or spend 24 months behind bars. In addition, he was ordered to pay an amount of R8.75-million towards the Criminal Asset Recovery Fund via the Asset Forfeiture Unit.
The agreement was enforced after King made submissions to Sars’ governance and oversight committee.
In the submissions, King conceded his tax debt and agreed to pay off R706.7-million to Sars in respect of his personal income tax and the tax liability of Ben Nevis, a King trust company managed out of Guernsey.
In return, Sars said it stopped pursuing tax charges against the businessman, who was once associated with golfing great Gary Player.
Gene Ravele, Sars’ chief officer for tax and customs enforcement investigations, welcomed the settlement and the conclusion of the tax battle with the businessman.
“Sars believes this settlement is in the interest of the fiscus and in the interest of justice,” Ravele said. “This brings to an end a period of protracted litigation.
“Sars appreciates that King has accepted responsibility for his tax position and the message he has communicated to taxpayers who may find themselves in a similar position – to rather engage Sars and seek resolution to a tax dispute rather than resort to litigation.
“This matter demonstrates the level of commitment Sars has to executing its statutory duty, regardless of the time and cost that complex tax disputes may require to reach finality. Taxpayers and the public in general should expect no less of Sars.”
King, meanwhile, said his family would now file all outstanding tax returns to ensure that they were all fully compliant going forward.
“My experience should serve as an example to taxpayers who find themselves in a similar position with Sars – rather seek early resolution and cooperate with Sars when asked by them to explain your tax affairs.
“I am delighted to finally put this behind me and to be able to actively resume my business career.”