Treasury confirms Gordhan seeking legal advice after Hawks’ summons

The Hawks have been investigating the nature and conduct of an alleged covert investigating unit at Sars.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA - The Treasury has confirmed to Eyewitness News that the Hawks have contacted Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan but he is seeking legal advice on this latest development.

It's being reported that the finance minister and former South African Revenue Service (Sars) employees have been asked to report to the Hawks later this week.

The Daily Maverick is reporting that Gordhan, Ivan Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg have been asked to provide warning statements to detectives.

The Hawks have been investigating the nature and conduct of an alleged covert investigating unit with the revenue service, which has since been shut down.

Treasury's Phumza Macanda says Minister Gordhan received correspondence from the Hawks yesterday but he is currently taking legal advice and will reserve comment at this stage.

A source with knowledge of the Hawks investigation has told EWN that Gordhan, Pillay and van Loggerenberg have been summoned by the Hawks' offices on Thursday.

It is unclear what the exact reasons are for detectives having summoned them, however, it's understood they may wish to take warning statements.

Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza sent Gordhan a list of 27 questions earlier this year when it emerged the minister was accused of establishing an allegedly illegal covert unit.

Pillay and van Loggerenberg both resigned from Sars following allegations of their involvement in that unit.

The Hawks could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the rand has slipped nearly three percent to the dollar since the story broke late this afternoon.

THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE RESPONDS

At the same time, the Democratic Alliance has released a statement saying Gordhan's arrest would be a 'disaster' for South Africa.

In the statement released this evening, the party says, "Reports that the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan has been requested to report to the Hawks at 10am on Thursday 25 August 2016, is a major escalation in the 'Sars Wars'. The fact that the Minister has reportedly been requested to appear before the Hawks suggests he may be informed about possible charges and may face arrest in connection with allegations relating to the Sars 'rogue unit' (sic)."

They went onto say the Gordhan's arrest would shatter investor confidence, risk a sovereign ratings downgrade and be a disaster for the already fragile zero growth, zero jobs economy in South Africa.

"The only option to get to the bottom of the allegations relating to the Sars 'rogue unit' (sic) is the appointment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution."