The South African Revenue Service (Sars) on Wednesday welcomed the sentence, saying Naik was convicted and sentenced after he falsified export documents and diverted cigarettes back into the South African market without paying the excise and duties for import and export.
“Mr Naik claimed that the company had exported cigarettes to Zambia. These exports were investigated and proved to be false exports. This crime was committed to evade duties and excise payable on the cigarettes,” the revenue service said in a statement.
Naik was convicted on five counts of fraud and for contravening section 80 (1) of the Customs and Excise Act.
According to evidence presented in the Johannesburg Regional Court, the total prejudice to Sars was R18 million.
Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter praised the investigating team and the cooperation of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for securing a conviction and sentencing.
“Sars has repeatedly stated that the organisation will make it hard and costly for taxpayers and traders who wilfully break the law and undermine the Sars mandate of collecting revenue.
“We are committed to helping those taxpayers and traders who seek to comply voluntarily with their legal obligations. Several digital channels have been created over the years to make it easy and simple for such taxpayers to comply,” Kieswetter said.
He added that Naik’s conviction and sentencing should send a clear signal that Sars had zero-tolerance for such criminal behaviour and would use all avenues at its disposal to pursue such criminals.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe