13-member S African Indian family in tax fraud scandal

The accused, including a mother, her four children and other close and not so close relatives of the family, were arrested from the Lenasia area, south of here, largely populated by ethnic Indians.

The 13 are facing charges in the Johannesburg High Court for allegedly defrauding the SA Revenue Service of R 4.9 million over 17 months by claiming Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds for 126 companies that existed only on paper.

VAT entails claiming refunds for goods or services for resale on which tax has been paid, but the companies did not make any purchases for the VAT refund submissions that were paid into their accounts by SARS.

"They submitted VAT returns containing fabricated details so to ensure undue VAT refunds to be paid out," court papers stated.

"They received or retained fraudulently obtained VAT refunds in their bank accounts, or accounts to which they had access to, and or accounts to which they were given access to," the papers said.

The accused include 53-year-old Shajida Begum Samnakay, her four children Ibrahim Hoosen Desai, Abdul Gafoor Desai, Mooshtaq Desai and Mumtaz Desai; their aunt Feroza Mia Desai; Mooshtaq's wife, Sakeena Ally and their cousins Mohammed Shiraaz Samnakay and Irfaan Shaikhnag.

Other accused, all believed to be related to the Samnakay family in some way, are brothers Abdur Razzak Yusuf Lachporia and Mohamed Mobien Yusuf Lachporia, as well as Shakeel Ahmed Mohideen and Mohammed Ameen Mohideen.

They have all pleaded not guilty to the 191 charges of fraud, money laundering, and racketeering.

The State intends calling 20 witnesses, among them seven SARS officials from various branches, bank employees and a Department of Home Affairs official.

The arrests of members of a prominent family of the locality has left residents shocked.

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