Big Time boss nabbed for fraud

Justice Peace Maphosa

SOUTH Africa-based Zimbabwean businessman and Big Time Strategic Group founder Mr Justice Peace Maphosa is serving a suspended eight-year jail term which is running until 2020, after being convicted of 29 counts of fraud.

According to court documents, Mr Maphosa was convicted of fraud for presenting fake tax invoices to the South Africa Revenue Services for his two companies – Big Time Strategic Consultants and Computer Ink and Media Solutions (Pretoria Commercial Crime Court case number 111/293/13). SARS was prejudiced of R843 080,40 as a result of the fraudulent tax invoices and Mr Maphosa was ordered to pay the money in instalments until January 1, 2019.

After being convicted by Gauteng regional division magistrate Mr MG van Wyk, Mr Maphosa, his lawyer Mr Rishav Maharaj, and prosecutor Advocate Petronella du Plessis entered into a plea agreement in terms of Section 105A of the Criminal Procedure Act, Act 51 of 1977 on January 28, 2015.

Mr van Wyk sentenced Mr Maphosa to eight years imprisonment which was wholly suspended for five years on condition that: “The accused is not again convicted of fraud, forgery, uttering or any contravention of Section 235 of the Tax Administration Act, Act 28 of 2011, committed during the period of suspension.”

“The accused will pay SARS the sum of R843 080,40 which will be liquidated, in 60 equal instalments, at a rate of R14 051,34 per month, commencing on the 1st day of February 2015 and thereafter on the 1st day of each consecutive month until 1 January 2019.”

The charges stemmed from fake invoices Mr Maphosa tendered to SARS between January 2009 and April 12, 2011 after Big Time Strategic Consultants and Computer Ink and Media Solutions made various transactions with other firms.

“At all material times, the accused was aware that the invoices were in fact fraudulent and that it did not accurately reflect the details/amounts or transactions contained therein to constitute a tax deductible expense and or to be included for the calculation of output VAT,” says the court record.

“As a result of the misrepresentations contained in the fraudulent tax invoices SARS suffered actual prejudice. At all material times the accused was well aware that his actions were wrongful, unlawful and punishable by law. The accused falsified the tax invoices with the intention of inducing SARS to act to their detriment.”

In mitigation, Mr Maphosa said he was a breadwinner and employed 70 people. Mr Maphosa also said he was remorseful.

Efforts to get a comment from Mr Maphosa were fruitless as Big Time Strategic Group’s corporate affairs director Mr Alson Dakarayi promised to respond to e-mailed questions but did not by time of going to Press.

“I received the questions and have since forwarded them to Mr Maphosa as I cannot comment without his input,” he said.

Mr Maphosa is a prominent businessman with interests in ICT, aviation, construction, hospitality and farming.

He shot to prominence in Zimbabwe after launching the Gwanda Gospel Festival and sponsoring elite beauty pageants – Miss Tourism Zimbabwe and Miss World Zimbabwe. Mr Maphosa was also the headline sponsor for the Harare International Carnival.

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