The Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) has uncovered a scam involving the payment of refunds worth N$15.2 million that the agency attributes to a criminal syndicate.
This was confirmed yesterday during a media briefing by NamRA commissioner Sam Shivute.
“The observed trend is that several individual taxpayers’ profiles are changed, mostly with the assistance of taxpayer representatives and/or bookkeepers, to provisional taxpayers’ status,” he explained.
These profile changes are associated with taxpayers earning income from additional sources, such as farming, which is separate from their regular employment.
Subsequently, revised returns would be submitted with inflated expenses, resulting in the scammers receiving more refunds than what was due to them, Shivute said.
The said scam seems to involve some 122 taxpayers at known companies. This prompted him to state that all the scammers will be easy to trace because they are all employed.
However, none of the erroneous refunds have been recovered yet.
Shivute confirmed that a fraud investigation has commenced, and significant progress and discoveries have been made.
“The preliminary indications are that several role-players are involved, and although possibly premature, we cannot rule out the active participation of our staff in this scam,” he continued.
The agency has already opened criminal cases against identified suspects, while administrative violations will also be pursued in line with the applicable statutes.
The NamRA chief said the scam originated long before the revenue agency came into existence. The illegal doings came to the fore as activities escalated in 2019, causing NamRA to commence with an investigation.
The taxpayers involved apparently fall within the N$250 000 to N$350 000 income bracket, and are involved in different sectors.
The commissioner thus encouraged those who might have unwittingly benefited from the scam to engage NamRA offices countrywide to aid the investigation in exposing the true masterminds of the scam.
As a mitigating measure, the processing of all tax refund claims for individual provisional taxpayers will thus be halted with immediate effect until 30 June 2022.
“This is to determine the full extent of this scam and its real impact on the public purse. Tax refund claims in respect of other tax types such as individual taxpayers and Value Added Tax (VAT) shall not be affected by this moratorium,” Shivute stated.