Saturday, 14 March 2020

WHISTLEBLOWERS HELP RECOVER $90M


THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has recovered about $90 million in unpaid taxes through the whistleblower facility over the past 10 years as it makes concerted efforts to mop up revenue from non-compliant businesses.

Zimra head corporate communications Mr Francis Chimanda told Sunday News Business in emailed responses that the whistle-blower facility had played a significant role in assisting them to recover revenue from non-compliant taxpayers.

“The whistleblower facility has been effective in that it has assisted Zimra in quickly exposing non-compliant taxpayers who prejudice the State of revenue. By its nature, the facility results in expeditious conclusion of cases as the information and evidence supplied by whistleblowers is, in most instances, very accurate and takes less resources to confirm,” he said. 

The Government in 2001 introduced the whistleblower facility to enable informants to share information on such malpractices as tax avoidance and evasion by individuals and companies that compromised tax revenue collections. Under the facility, persons who submit information leading to the recovery of undeclared tax revenue are entitled to a reward equivalent to 10 percent of the amount recovered.

“The amount paid to the whistleblowers from 2009 to date as rewards is $7,7 million. From 2009 to date we have recovered $87,9 million through the whistleblower facility,” said Mr Chimanda.

Zimra has come up with a number of measures and strategies to ensure that only deserving informants are rewarded through the Whistle Blower Facility. This was after Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube raised concern in his 2019 National Budget statement that the initiative was prone to abuse.
  
“There are procedures in place to guide the reward to informants, thorough interviews are conducted on potential whistleblowers reporting cases to determine eligibility. Whistleblowers are required to submit credible evidence to support the alleged tax evasion and information submitted should be specific, leading to the quick detection of the reported offence,” said Mr Chimanda.

The whistleblower laws are enshrined in the Zimra Act (Chapter 23:11) under Section 34 B. According to Section 34 B, subsection 2 of the Act, the commissioner-general may, with the approval of the Finance Minister, award any person, not being an employee of the authority, or a near relative of an employee of the authority, a monetary reward for information provided or any measure taken which results in detection of smuggling or any illegal and underhand activities and of the recovery of revenue which would otherwise have been lost. Mr Chimanda also said an internal lifestyle audit carried out at the revenue collector in 2019 led to the recovery of ill-gotten wealth by some of its officers.

“The lifestyle audits have been successful. They have led to recovery of proceeds of crime as they revealed officers who were living outside their means. A total of 34 officers failed lifestyle audits in 2019 and appropriate action was taken,” he said.

A lifestyle audit is conducted on all Zimra employees including management. Quarterly plans are developed and lifestyle audits are carried out accordingly. Sunday News


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