Sars slaps Durban recycling firm with R500k fine

11 Nov 2019

IOL, 31 October 2019
by Chris Ndaliso

Durban - A local metal recycling company owner was slapped with a R500 000 fine for attempting to export unrefined copper, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) said on Thursday. SARS said Angelo Solimene, owner of Group Wreck, pleaded guilty on four counts relating to breach of customs regulations.

“He was sentenced to a fine of R500 000, half of which was suspended for five years on condition the accused does not export any goods without the relevant permits. He has also paid R600 000 in order to obtain release of his goods from Customs. The current goods are, however, not allowed to be exported,” said the revenue services in a statement.

According to the statement, the penalty follows an inspection by customs in July this year of two containers belonging to Group Wreck. These were being exported from the Durban harbour. It’s not clear where these containers were exported to. “The contents of the containers were declared as scrap metal. However, upon inspection, they were found to contain unrefined copper. The case was referred to the International Trade Administration Commission of SA (ITAC).

The owner of a Durban-based metal recycling company pleaded guilty last week to several charges relating to the exportation of unrefined copper,” reads the statement. Angelo Solimene, Group Wreck owner declined to comment. “As a company we cannot comment on this. The matter was in court,” he said.

Since February 2012, the Minister of Economic Development prescribed that copper scrap shall not be exported from the Republic of South Africa without a permit, and no permits have been issued since 2017.

“The scrap metal industry is a multi-billion rand industry and contributes an estimated R15 billion annually to South Africa’s gross domestic product. Large volumes of copper and copper alloys have been exported from South Africa at high prices due to huge demand from certain countries. This was having a negative effect on the local copper industry and the drive to obtain copper was fuelling the theft of copper cable, causing billions of rands in damages.

The mass exportation of scrap copper was also negatively impacting the local industry, which was leading to lower production volumes and unemployment – hence the recent tightening of regulations relating to the export of copper from South Africa,” read the statement.