NPA, Hawks covered up for the wrong people, Treasury’s Momoniat tells MPs

Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat says the government is now making real progress against illicit financial flows.

FILE: Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat. Picture: @TreasuryRSA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - A senior Treasury official has told Parliament that state capture stymied efforts to combat illicit financial flows.

Illicit financial flows are the movement of capital, which may be illegally earned, to foreign countries, and cost the fiscus billions in lost tax revenue.

Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat says the government is now making real progress against illicit financial flows, adding this is largely due to a changed political climate and new leadership at the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as well as at the SA Revenue Service (Sars).

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance has been urging greater cooperation between Sars, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) as well as the Hawks and the NPA to tackle the problem.

They’ve told Parliament that structures are now in place and that they’re working together.

Momoniat says there is now much greater commitment in government to deal with illicit financial flows: “We can now talk openly about state capture. This was difficult to do before a certain date in February 2018 (when President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma). Before that, I think even many MPs refused to talk about it. We certainly were talking about it, but you got your head chopped off if you dared to talk about it.”

Momoniat says the dismantling of Sars’ large business and illicit economy unit s (under former commissioner Tom Moyane) was deliberate, in order to facilitate illicit financial flows, but these units are now being restored.

Momoniat says leadership changes at the Hawks and the NPA had led to “a mindset change” and there was no ground for hope.

“We knew the Hawks and the NPA would do sweet nothing. They did cover up for the wrong people.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)