DURBAN – One of Africa’s largest independent family-run wholesalers; Africa Cash N Carry (ACC) is embroiled in a bitter feud with South African Revenue Service (SARS) auditors and the company’s former chief executive, who is accused of swindling the company out of tens of millions of rand before starting his own business competing in the same space.
Damning documents obtained by Independent Media, detailing minutes of a meeting that took place on May 10, 2019, between SARS senior manager of auditing, Dirk du Plooy and Sanet Tredoux, a SARS investigative auditor, show that both individuals suggested that the Hathurani family, which owns ACC should lose control of their family business because “it will remain a liability to the state”.
The minutes between the two read: “SARS is of the view that as long as ACC is under the control of the Hathuranis it will remain a liability to the State. It is a good business but it will be better if it is sold.”
A high ranking official within SARS who blew the whistle said this was questionable conduct between the two auditors at SARS.
“The objective of SARS is to collect tax, not to decide who the business should belong to. The question then is, who are they reserving the business for? It is none of SARS business to choose who should run which businesses or companies. It has nothing to do with the mandate of SARS,” said the official.
In the minutes between Du Plooy and Tredoux, it is also revealed that there are 30 people permanently working on the ACC matter.
“They say they assigned over 30 auditors to these people. Are they the only project in the country? The way this is being done is victimisation. SARS is a great organisation but it’s made to look bad because of certain individuals,” said the whistleblower.
Other documents seen by Independent Media, addressed to SARS commissioner Edward Keiswetter, by ACC details how the company’s woes with SARS started back in 2001 and has led to a tax bill of R1 billion and on the verge of being liquidated.
According to documents, under the leadership of the company’s former CEO Cassim Aysen, who also doubled as the chief finance officer (CFO) of the company, SARS conducted a search seizure around 2008 which resulted in an assessment of over R1 billion.
The company disputed the debt in court and lost the case and has since been unable to pay the total debt of R1 billion as it claims in court papers that its assets are less than its total debt.
Correspondence alleges that in the interim, Aysen, whilst running the affairs of ACC, allegedly, “swindled large sums of money discreetly into his own family’s accounts” (R53 million) without the knowledge of shareholders and then went on to open his own company called Continental Cash N Carry (CCC).