Former Steinhoff chairman Wiese caught up in R3.9 billion tax evasion case


JOHANNESBURG, July 19  – Former Steinhoff International Holdings NV chairman Christo Wiese has been caught up in a case in which the South African Revenue Service claims that a law firm at which he was an executive, ENS, helped multinational oil company Tullow shift about R3.9 billion in assets out of the country to dodge taxes.

A report by investigative journalist unit amaBhungane published on Thursday said papers filed in the Western Cape high court show that SARS is pursuing Wiese and two other people personally for R217 million as part of a R3.7 billion tax claim based on Tullow’s “restructuring ”.

AmaBhungane said ENS tax head Peter Dachs denied that SARS alleges any tax evasion “in respect of the merits” of a long-running dispute.

The report says SARS is claiming that ENS restructured Tullow, leaving it in charge of a holding company in South Africa that was largely a tax shell — which the law firm then sold to Wiese.

“When SARS came knocking, Wiese allegedly moved assets out of the company and sold it to a former ENS executive who told SARS there was no cash or assets left to claim,” amaBhungane reported.

It said the case was due to be heard in court next month.

In April Wiese, one of South Africa’s richest men, lodged a R59 billion claim against Steinhoff over cash investments made by his Titan Group of companies in Steinhoff in 2015 and 2016, after he lost billions of rand when the retailer’s share price crashed last year after revelations of accounting irregularities. (ANA)