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Press Release

TJSA applauds Oakbay director’s 10-year jail term for illicit cigarette scam

Wednesday 8 December 2021 –  TAX Justice South Africa (TJSA) today applauds the jailing of a company boss convicted of an R18 million cigarette tax scam and urges authorities to take more action against criminals looting our nation via rampant illicit trade.

Oakbay Trading director DP Naik was jailed for 10 years for fraud and for contravening the Customs and Excise Act after he “falsified export documents and diverted cigarettes back into the SA market without paying the excise and duties for import and export”.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says: “Scams like these ‘ghost exports’ are costing South Africa over R20 billion a year when we desperately need that tax revenue to defeat the pandemic.

“SARS Commissioner Ed Kieswetter deserves praise for this breakthrough conviction. But this offence is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Criminal manufacturers are flooding shops countrywide with illicit cigarettes. These industrial-scale looters are public enemy number one and it should be a national priority to bring them to justice.”

report by independent market researchers Ipsos reveals that almost half (43%) of all stores nationwide are now selling illicit cigarettes.

An undercover investigation by TJSA found cigarettes being sold below the Minimum Collectible Tax (MCT) level of R21.60 in 97% of the stores visited in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

“The evidence is there that should bring an end to this ruinous crimewave,” says Abramjee.

“Authorities must follow the money, catch the masterminds and bring them to justice. Regulations need to be enforced and the criminal looters need to be brought to court.

“Only then will we rid South Africa of this menace and recoup the millions being stolen from its people on a daily basis.”