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Diplomat spends over $2m monthly on duty-free booze – Official

A South Africa-based diplomat, whose identity and country remains unnamed, reportedly spent US$2.4 million in purchasing duty-free alcohol for personal…

A South Africa-based diplomat, whose identity and country remains unnamed, reportedly spent US$2.4 million in purchasing duty-free alcohol for personal use in three months, a senior official disclosed on Tuesday.According to Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela, the South African government’s ongoing investigations into the scandal revealed that some of the diplomats who abused their diplomatic privileges sold the booze to the public by setting up drinking joints stocked with the duty-free alcohol.

Last week a number of diplomats from several countries, including Malawi and Lesotho, were declared persona non-grata and given 72 hours to leave South Africa for allegedly trading in duty-free alcohol.

Monyela said the ongoing probe into the scandal found that some of these diplomats allegedly ran their own bars due to the abundant alcohol they accumulated by abusing their duty-free status to purchase the liquor supplies. 

“In one instance, there is one particular diplomat who allegedly spent about $2.4 million in three months on duty-free alcohol,” Monyela said.

The diplomats’ illegal activities are believed to have cost the South African government losing US$6.7 million a month in revenue, he said.

“From the calculations the South African Revenue Service has made, the country was losing US$6.7 million per month” from the illicit alcohol trade. Monyela said.

The official said Pretoria intended to punish diplomats found guilty of abusing the duty-free alcohol purchase privileges. 

“They probably thought they could get away with it because they have been doing it for so long. But government has decided enough is enough. We are going to take action because government can’t be abused in that way,” Monyela said.

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