New team named to head SAP in S Africa

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES - Eric Auchard

GER­MANY’S SAP named a new ex­ec­u­tive team in South Africa on Fri­day, two days af­ter the soft­ware gi­ant put four se­nior man­agers on leave, pend­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tions into al­le­ga­tions that it was in­volved in a gov­ern­ment bribery scheme.

SAP said 25-year com­pany vet­eran Claas Kuehne­mann would step into the role of act­ing man­ag­ing direc­tor for Africa, in charge of the com­pany’s busi­ness in 51 coun­tries, and that Peter David, its fi­nance chief for Europe, Mid­dle East and Africa, would be­come act­ing chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, SAP Africa.

Europe’s largest soft­ware com­pany also said it had hired Chicago-based in­ter­na­tional law firm Baker McKen­zie to con­duct an ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. SAP said on Wed­nes­day that it would run its own, in­ter­nal probe us­ing its own com­pli­ance or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Baker McKen­zie would work with var­i­ous ex­perts, in­clud­ing foren­sic firm FTI Con­sult­ing, the com­pany said.

“My in­terim role is to sup­port our em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers and part­ners across all our busi­ness sec­tors while the due dili­gence process is con­ducted,” Kuehne­mann said. Two decades ago, he set up the new SAP sub­sidiary in South Africa.

South African me­dia re­ported last week that SAP paid al­leged kick­backs in the form of sales com­mis­sions to a firm linked to the po­lit­i­cally con­nected Gupta fam­ily, who are known to be close friends of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

amaBhun­gane, an in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing group, to­gether with the Daily Mav­er­ick’s Scorpio in­ves­tiga­tive team, re­ported that the al­leged kick­backs were to clinch a deal with rail and lo­gis­tics com­pany Transnet and other state-owned firms worth R1 bil­lion.

The amaBhun­gane re­port was based on leaked e-mails and doc­u­ments that they said showed how the pow­er­ful Gupta fam­ily un­duly in­flu­enced the award­ing of gov­ern­ment con­tracts worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

No com­ment

SAP has not named the four se­nior ex­ec­u­tives it put on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave while in­ves­ti­gat­ing the com­pany’s ac­tions.

The Gup­tas and Zuma have de­nied wrong­do­ing. A Gupta fam­ily spokesper­son and Zuma’s spokesper­son did not re­spond to calls and e-mails for com­ment on the SAP story.

Transnet said that it had been an SAP cus­tomer since 2000, but that it was un­aware of the par­ties re­port­edly in­volved in SAP sales to the com­pany. It re­ferred queries to SAP and its sales part­ners.

Baker McKen­zie ad­vises a wide range of African com­pa­nies, multi­na­tion­als and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and em­ploys 60 at­tor­neys from its of­fices in Jo­han­nes­burg. – Reuters

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