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Luther Lebelo used R770k of taxpayers money to clear name, Nugent Inquiry hears

Advocate Carol Steinberg says evidence reveals Lebelo briefed a private law firm to prepare documents he would present at the commission.

A screengrab of Sars executive Luther Lebelo giving testimony at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry on 27 September. Picture: YouTube

PRETORIA - The Nugent commission of inquiry has heard that South African Revenue Service (Sars) executive Luther Lebelo has racked up more than R750,000 of taxpayer money to prepare his submission to the commission.

When Lebelo first appeared at the commission last month, he protested that he was being treated unfairly, by being ambushed with questions he wasn’t prepared for.

Advocate Carol Steinberg says evidence reveals Lebelo briefed a private law firm to prepare documents he would present at the commission.

“Lebelo repeatedly said in his evidence that the reason he wanted to give evidence was to clear his own name, so it seems to us that the amount of R759,000 of taxpayer money was spent in an attempt to help clear his own name.”

Acting Commissioner Mark Kingon says the expense was obtained through the proper governance processes, however, a specific process was set up to provide legal assistance to employees who wanted to make submissions to the commission.

“They went through our corporate legal team and I specifically put that in place that if anybody needed approval, they go through that. That was not done in this case and I was not aware of these costs being incurred.

He said he does not think it was appropriate.

Lebelo is scheduled to return to testify next week.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)