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Tax fraudster sentenced to four years behind bars

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The Kimberley Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sentenced a 38-year-old man to four years direct imprisonment for fraud and contravention of the Tax Administration Act on Thursday.

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THE KIMBERLEY Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sentenced Shahein Anwar Hassen, 38, to four years direct imprisonment for fraud and contravention of the Tax Administration Act on Thursday.

According to an investigation that was conducted by the Criminal Investigations Unit of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) in Bloemfontein, Hassen, who is a Kimberley resident, was previously employed by two accounting firms.

Sars stated that in line with an original assessment, Hassen initially owed R1,144.89 for the 2020 financial year.

During 2020, Hassen submitted 48 different tax returns that resulted in income tax refunds to the value of R275,159.29.

Fraudulent income tax refunds were generated by false deductions relating to medical expenses and retirement annuity funds as well as overstated PAYE deductions.

Sars was able to recoup R92,500.65 of the income tax refunds that were paid out.

Hassen also submitted his 2021 tax return, where he also claimed a fraudulent income tax refund to the value of R25,643.60.

Sars issued a notice for verification of the income tax return, where he submitted a revised return reducing the income tax refund to R24,000.

Sars did not pay any refunds when Hassen notified Sars that he was unemployed for the 2021 tax year and that the income tax return should be a “nil”.

Hassen initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea, where he admitted to 29 charges of fraud.

Hawks regional spokesperson Warrant Officer Nomthandazo Mnisi said Hassen was arrested by the Hawks’ Kimberley Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team on June 15, 2023.

“He was found guilty in the same court on February 13 for 29 counts of fraud and contravention of Tax Administration Act.

“He claimed tax credits relating to medical expenses, retirement annuity fund deductions and pay-as-you-earn contributions using fictitious IRP5 certificates and fictitious medical aid certificates,” said Mnisi.

She indicated that Sars suffered a total loss of R324,802.89.

“A thorough investigation by the Hawks’ Kimberley Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team led to the conviction and sentencing of the accused,” Mnisi stated.

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