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Panama Papers: Sars waiting to pounce

The president’s nephew has been named in the scandal due to his links with a company in the DRC.

The South African Revenue Service says it's watching developments around the Panama Papers closely. Picture: Sars.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Revenue Service (Sars) says it will investigate South Africans implicated in the so-called Panama Papers when the information becomes available and it will act appropriately.

The Panama Papers, which have been leaked to the media, contain more than 11 million records from a Panama-based law firm that show how world leaders, business people and celebrities have been hiding their money in offshore tax shelters.

President Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma's name has surfaced due to his ties to a company which scored a multi-billion rand oil deal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sars says it cannot comment or divulge information on any taxpayers' affairs, but has assured members of the public that it will act on information it receives on South Africans who've been avoiding paying tax.

Khulubuse Zuma's spokesperson, Vuyo Mkhize, meanwhile says it's no secret that the businessman is associated to Caprikat Limited, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.

"These papers don't contain anything that South Africa doesn't already know."

At least two people linked to the Fidentia Asset Management scam opened offshore companies, and other international names have emerged, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and soccer star Lionel Messi.

About R1.2 billion was misappropriated affecting thousands of Fidentia beneficiaries. Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown was sentenced to prison for his role in the fraudulent activity.

'KEEN INTERESTS IN PANAMA PAPERS'

At the same time, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says his department has a keen interest in the revelations contained in the Panama Papers.

Last year, former President Thabo Mbeki told the Pan-African Parliament that US$50 billion leaves the continent every year illegally.

The Parliament heard that large portion of this money is moved to tax havens by multinational companies.

Gordhan says they will keep a close eye on the revelations.

"The rich also have to be careful about where they keep their money otherwise they get exposed. There are people going through these 11 million documents and let's see how many South Africans appear on that list. I'm no longer the tax commissioner but we'll be very interested in what they've done with their money."

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