Hawks pile on corruption charge against Gordhan

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The rand took a beating on Wednesday amid escalating drama and uncertainty around whether the finance minister will be arrested.

Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: GCIS)
Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: GCIS)

News24 is reporting that the case against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan appears to be related to corruption, not only the so-called rogue spy unit established during his time at the SA Revenue Service (Sars), as has previously been speculated.

The website claims that “this is the first time it has been revealed that the law enforcement agencies are investigating Gordhan for corruption”.

ALSO READ: Pravin Gordhan and co ‘summoned’ by the Hawks

A letter sent by the Hawks to Gordhan on Monday suggests Gordhan will be charged with unauthorised expenditure and/or fruitless and wasteful expenditure in terms of the Public Finance Management Act and corruption in terms of the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act.

The letter claims that Gordhan, as finance minister, “approved that then deputy commission of Sars, Ivan Pillay, could take early retirement at 56 with full retirement benefits” from 1 August 2010 and that his employer should pay his early retirement penalty to the amount of R1 258 359 “despite the early retirement being for personal considerations of the employee when ordinarily the employee must pay the early retirement penalty in terms of the law”.

ALSO READ: Charges against Gordhan have no basis in law

Gordhan’s lawyer Tebogo Malatji told the Hawks the corruption claims were unfounded.

“The offence of corruption (under the act) in the first place requires that the perpetrator ‘gives or agrees or offers to give to any other person any gratification’. The minister did not give or agree to give gratification to anybody. He merely gave official approval to the proposal of the commissioner that Sars allow Mr Pillay to take early retirement and be reappointed.”

Gordhan had earlier issued a statement on Wednesday saying he would not be reporting to the Hawks as requested.

In the statement, he said: “I am advised that my conduct was at all times entirely lawful. I will, however, not address matters of law because I have requested my attorneys to do so.”

He added that the investigative unit he established at Sars had always been lawful and been constituted lawfully.

In his statement, he said: “I firmly believed at all times that the establishment of the unit was an entirely lawful extension of Sars’s long-standing capacity to investigate tax-related crime.”

He concluded with: “I have nothing further to say in relation to these matters. If the Hawks, however, require any further assistance in good faith, I would be happy to assist.”

The finance minister was told on Tueday he would be receiving a “warning statement” prior to being charged with an offence.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that civil society plans to march to the Hawks’ offices on Thursday when Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg hand themselves in. The George Bizos Foundation and Helen Suzman Foundation are expected to tell the Hawks they must also be arrested.

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