KPMG’s South Africa bosses purged over Gupta scan­dal

The Sunday Guardian - - & Comment Analysis - REUTERS

Global au­di­tor KPMG cleared out its South African lead­er­ship en masse on Friday af­ter damn­ing find­ings from an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into work done for busi­ness­men friends of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

KPMG’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into its work for the Gup­tas, ac­cused by a pub­lic watch­dog of im­prop­erly in­flu­enc­ing govern­ment con­tracts, iden- ti­fied no ev­i­dence of crimes or cor­rup­tion, but found that work done for Gupta fam­ily firms “fell con­sid­er­ably short of KPMG’s stan­dards”, the au­di­tor said in a state­ment.

In par­tic­u­lar, it ac­knowl­edged “flaws” in a re­port that it com­piled for South Africa’s tax ser­vice, which im­plied that for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han had helped set up a “rogue spy unit” when he was head of the ser­vice. Gord­han, sub­se­quently sacked as fi­nance min­is­ter by Zuma, said the re­port had dam­aged South Africa’s young democ­racy, and that he was con­sid­er­ing le­gal steps.

KPMG be­came the third global firm to be dam­aged by work car­ried out for the In­dian-born broth­ers af­ter the business con­sul­tancy McKin­sey and the pub­lic re­la­tions agency Bell Pot­tinger, whose Bri­tish business col­lapsed this week.

Both Zuma and the Gup­tas deny wrong­do­ing and say they are vic­tims of a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated witch-hunt. The Gup­tas and their com­pa­nies have not been charged with any crime, but the scan­dal is one of many that have dogged the Zuma pres­i­dency. KPMG said it would do­nate 40 mil­lion rand earned in fees from Gupta-con­trolled firms to ed­u­ca­tion and anti-cor­rup­tion groups, and re­fund 23 mil­lion rand it had re­ceived for the tax ser­vice re­port.

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