South Africa’s third wealthiest man and mining entrepreneur, billionaire Christoffel Wiese, it is said to owe the country’s revenue agency (Sars) an estimated $250 million (R$2 billion) in unpaid taxes.
Wiese, who sits on numerous corporate boards and also has investments in gold and diamond mining companies, told the Sunday Times on Sunday that he is not hiding from Sars.
“Do you think that for 50 years Sars has not been aware of my existence? I’m not hiding anywhere, so if you think I owe you money, send me the bill,” the newspaper quoted him saying.
The 71-year-old also holds stakes in real estate firms and is involved in a private equity firm with investments in jeweller Fabergé.
Wiese owns vast properties, among them a private game reserve in the Kalahari and the prized Lourensford wine farm, a 300-year-old estate by the Helderberg mountains in the Western Cape.
The Sars assessment for Wiese, reports Fin24.com, is the largest in South African history and it would make him the largest individual tax offender in the country.
The investigation into Wiese was reportedly triggered when British custom officials stopped Wiese at the London airport en route to Luxembourg in 2009, seizing over 1 million dollars (about £700,000) he was carrying in cash.
He said at the moment the money came from diamond deals and had been in a safety deposit box in London for years.
Wiese got the full sum back recently, following a legal process and, according to his lawyer, represents less than two weeks’ income for his client.
Image: Wiese in an interview with German television