34 years of hard slog, and then 2 big promotions in 6 days: what we know about new acting Sars boss Mark Kingon
- Mark Kingon is a Sars veteran, who has worked there for more than 30 years.
- He was once reportedly tasked to make then President Jacob Zuma to submit his tax returns.
- Financial experts are fans.
Mark Kingon has been appointed the new acting head of the SA Revenue Services (Sars), replacing Tom Moyane, who had been suspended by the Presidency with immediate effect “in the public interest to restore the credibility of SARS without delay" late on Monday night.
Kingon was chosen above the five members currently serving in the Sars executive.
His latest promotion follows just six days after being appointed the acting chief officer of business and individual tax following the resignation of Jonas Makwakwa. Makwakwa has been under siege following an alleged payment of R600,000 to his account by a company that provided debt collection services to SARS.
Here are five things we know about Kingon.
1. He’s a Sars veteran.
Kingon has been with Sars for his entire career of almost 34 years, and has worked in various departments including enforcement and legal. Before the latest two positions, he was group executive for relationship management in business and individual tax.
Slowly, slowly, then suddenly. Last week Mark Kingon was head of SARS relationship management. 2 quick promotions later = acting Comissioner— Bruce Whitfield (@brucebusiness) March 20, 2018
One former colleague of Kingon tells Business Insider South Africa that that he was never one of the corrupted parties at Sars.
“He’s an approachable guy, and a real raakvatter [adept person],” says one associate.
2. He was tasked to get Zuma to submit his tax returns.
In his book "The President’s Keepers", Jacques Pauw wrote that in 2011, Kingon was tasked to convince then President Jacob Zuma to file his tax returns. After Zuma refused to submit tax returns for four years in a row, former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay asked Kingon to make contact with Zuma and his legal team. It has been estimated that Zuma may owe up to R64 million on tax penalties alone for the upgrades to Nkandla, which count as fringe benefits.
According to Pauw, Kingon met with Zuma and his attorney, Michael Hulley. After many deliberations, Hulley promised Kingon that Zuma would submit his returns, but nothing was forthcoming.
“SARS, mainly through Kingon, kept on nagging Hulley to comply, but Hulley just kept on giving SARS the runaround,” Pauw wrote.
Zuma denied these allegations.
3. Kingon was reportedly in the room when the Hawks manhandled a senior Sars staff member.
According to a report in the Mail & Guardian, Kingon was one of a group of colleagues who pleaded with senior SARS staffer Vlok Symington to hand over a document to the Hawks.
In October 2016, Symington had a printout of an email that confirmed that Sars' own legal representative didn’t agree with the way the tax authority was persecuting its former commissioner Pravin Gordhan.
Hawks officials reportedly came to Sars and tried to force a defiant Symington to hand over the document. Kingon, along with another colleague, reportedly asked the officials for time alone with Symington and tried to placate him. Symington kept on refusing and the Hawks then reportedly used physical force to get the printout.
4. Tax experts are Kingon fanboys.
Kingon’s appointment has been welcomed by Treasury and tax practioners.
“Mark is very experienced and knows the intricacies of all the Sars systems,” one partner of a large financial services firm told us. He believes Kingon is a very good choice as he will be able to prioritise what actions are required to get SARS on the right track.
“Interactions with Sars have been very difficult in recent times, with long delays in refunds and other problems that have been worsening over time. This has had an impact on the revenue earned by Sars."
5. He’s a committed Christian.
A member of the Central Baptist Church Pretoria, he is chairman of Bethesda Outreach Ministries, which assists children who has been orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS.
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