Sunday Times 01 December 2019
The taxman has finally caught up with convicted drug dealer Panganathan “Timmy” Marimuthu, who was implicated in testimony before the state capture inquiry in the looting of the police’s Crime Intelligence slush fund.
Luxury properties owned by Marimuthu, his wife Neermala Moodley and his son Lovendren Marimuthu were attached by the South African Revenue Service (Sars) this week in a bid to recover more than R15m in unpaid taxes.
Sources told the Sunday Times this week that the family and their businesses owed the taxman almost R400m.
Warrants show Sars attached three luxury Durban properties belonging to the family, an apartment in the ritzy Pearls of Umhlanga building and others in the estates of Ilala Ridge and Sugarhill in La Lucia.
Sars’ warrants also authorised the attachment of assets held in a safety-deposit vault at Umhlanga’s Gateway Shopping Centre.
Marimuthu said the taxman had got it wrong. “This is just a wild goose chase. They came here with the warrants but they have got all the wrong addresses. One property we sold nine, 10 months ago. The one at the Pearls is owned by a plant-hire company.”
He also said there was no safety-deposit vault in use by his family.
Marimuthu is a former police officer who began dealing in mandrax, according to an internal Sars briefing note. After his conviction and failed appeal, on the day he was meant to begin his prison sentence, he was offered correctional supervision.
The Jali commission into prison corruption later found that he “paid R100,000 to escape a prison sentence”, the Sars note said.
Sources told the Sunday Times this week that the family and their businesses owed the taxman almost R400m
Marimuthu was involved in a secret recording in 2010 that led to a Sars commissioner, Oupa Magashula, resigning following allegations of misconduct for allegedly irregularly offering a 28-year-old woman a job.
Marimuthu allegedly tried to use the recording as leverage to get Sars to back off from investigating his tax affairs.
This year Marimuthu was implicated in the looting of the police’s Crime Intelligence (CI) slush fund. The Zondo commission of inquiry heard that the fund’s chief financial officer, Maj-Gen Solly Lazarus, appointed Marimuthu as a “contact person” at CI and paid him R50,000 a month. CI also allegedly paid him R250,000 a month to rent safe houses, some of which were not fit to live in.
The commission also heard that CI allegedly appointed five of Marimuthu’s relatives as colonels and captains and two of his girlfriends as clerks. Lazarus, in turn, allegedly received gifts from Marimuthu, including overseas trips and jewellery.
Sars’ application is being kept under wraps at the high court in Durban because matters relating to taxpayer information are confidential. However, a source close to the investigation told the Sunday Times on Saturday that Marimuthu, his wife and son, as well as companies they own, “have a tax debt due to Sars of close to R400m”.
“Sars sequestrated Timmy Marimuthu previously because he couldn’t pay his tax debts. What they did on Thursday was execute orders against his son and his wife.”
The source also said that Marimuthu owed Sars R34m in his personal capacity. When Sars moved to liquidate him, he “pre-empted the process by putting himself into liquidation voluntarily”.
“Sars also carried out search and seizure orders and are in the process of liquidating a number of the other companies belonging to them,” the source said.
Moodley is being pursued by Sars for R8.3m and Lovendren for R6.8m.
The search and seizure warrants also state that Sars believes the family is hiding assets owned by Phehla Umsebenzi Trading, of which Moodley is the sole director.
“There exists reasonable grounds for suspecting that property of Phehla, including moveable assets, are being concealed,” the warrant says. A list of assets attached to the warrant includes 43 heavy vehicles belonging to family businesses.
WhatsApp messages sent and calls made to seven phone numbers listed to Moodley and Lovendren were not answered. Marimuthu did not respond to follow-up calls.
Sars spokesperson Sandile Memela declined to comment, citing the Tax Act, which provides for “secrecy of taxpayer information including investigations into taxpayers or traders”.