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Sars creates unit to investigate SA citizens named in Panama Papers

The names of 1,700 South African residents have been identified in data leaked in the Panama Papers.

A sign outside the building where Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm offices are placed in Panama City on 3 April 2016. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Revenue Services (Sars) executive Vlok Symington says it has created a special unit to follow up information relating to the names of South Africans identified in the Panama Papers.

He told a joint sitting of three Parliamentary oversight committees yesterday that the names of 1,700 South African residents identified in data leaked in the Panama Papers included shareholders, directors and beneficiaries of offshore companies that Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca helped set up.

Symington told Members of Parliament that being named in the data did not necessarily mean wrongdoing, but he says Sars is now checking up on the 1,700 names it has identified for tax compliance.

He said Sars has been running the information against its database.

"So far we've been able to identify 79 of a total of 560 offshore entities that we've been able to match, and we've been able to link 81 South African residents with those 79 offshore companies."

Symington said as the investigation continues the number is expected to grow.

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