Is the controversial Sars probe linked to the tobacco industry?

It's emerged the Hawks summoned Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan & three other former Sars officials.

Picture: sxc.hu.

JOHANNESBURG - A former South African Revenue Services (Sars) executive whose been summoned by the Hawks for questioning, says he believes the investigation is linked to big players in the tobacco industry.

It emerged yesterday that the Hawks have called Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and three other former Sars officials, to provide warning statements at their offices tomorrow.

Earlier this year, Eyewitness News reported that British American Tobacco (BAT) allegedly hired spies and paid off the authorities to target its competitors.

It's believed it was this activity that a Sars covert unit started to uncover which led to it being shut down.

The revenue service's former executive, Johann van Loggerenberg says it was publicly stated as far back as 2014 that the attacks on Sars and the investigative unit were driven by people associated with the tobacco industry.

He says the recent revelations by an anonymous Twitter user has a direct bearing on the matters at hand.

Thousands of documents, including emails, surveillance photos, affidavits and even private bank statements, related to the alleged illegal activities of BAT have been dumped online in the last month.

The tranche appears to support the allegations of a conspiracy between senior police officials and big tobacco.

Van Loggerenberg says he's continuously offered his co-operation with the authorities and will continue to do so, as he has nothing to hide and denies any wrongdoing.