The South African Revenue Service (SARS) on Aug. 26 took charge of all assets belonging to the Gold Leaf Tobacco Co. and those of its directors following a probe into tax evasion.
According to News24, SARS investigators believe they have evidence that GLTC was involved in in money laundering and may owe up to ZAR3 billion ($177.7 million) in undeclared taxes.
Fearing that GLTC’s assets alone may not cover its possible fiscal debts, the SARS targeted the assets of the assets of GLTC directors Simon Rudland and Ebrahim Adamjee.
Yusuf Abramjee, the founder Tax Justice SA, described the development as a “huge breakthrough in the battle against the illicit cigarette trade.”
“For over a decade, GLTC have been the prime suspects as South Africa’s illegal cigarette trade has grown into a national menace of devastating proportions,” he said.
Rudland and Adamjee told the tax inquiry they had done nothing wrong and declared all GLTC’s taxes to SARS.
The South African press has described Rudland as an “oligarch” associated with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. “The Rudlands consistently make the news as members of the powerful political and economic elite in Zimbabwe, propping up [Zimbabwe’s governing party] Zanu-PF,” wrote The Daily Maverick.