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Tito Mboweni issues stern warning to those in illicit cigarette trade

In a pre-budget briefing, the Finance Minister Tito Mboweni suggested there was harsh action in the offing, saying those who flout the tax regime will be dealt with.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni addressing the media prior to his Annual Budget speech taking place on 20 February 2018 in Cape Town. Pictures: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has put those involved in the illicit cigarette trade on notice.

In a pre-budget briefing on Thursday, he suggested there was harsh action in the offing, saying those who flout the tax regime will be dealt with harshly.

His comments came a day after the South African Revenue Service (Sars) moved to seize assets belonging to alleged tobacco smuggler Adriano Mazzotti to pay his tax debt.

Mboweni says any contravention of the tax regime will be ferreted out and dealt with, issuing this colourful warning to those who plan to transgress: “Do render unto Caesar, what belongs to Caesar because he can break your bones.”

Sars does not comment on its investigations.

But acting Sars commissioner Mark Kingon did tell journalists the unit focussing on the illicit economy is hard at work to identify and root out offenders.

“The warrant of execution is in the public domain. But it’s not un-norm to comment on taxpayers’ affairs. We are busy with many prongs of focus, in the illicit economy to ensure that what was rendered to Caesar was in fact rendered.”

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(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)