KPMG Hasn’t Fully Cooperated in South African Probe, Regulator SaysBy
IRBA had to meet KPMG leadership to remind auditor to engage
KPMG says it is complying with regulator’s document requests
South Africa’s auditing regulator said KPMG LLP’s local unit hasn’t fully cooperated with the body’s investigations into work done for the Gupta family, who are alleged to have used political connections to win state contracts.
It took a meeting with KPMG’s leadership team to prompt them to engage with the probe and, even after that, the auditing firm hasn’t released certain documents, Bernard Agulhas, head of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, told lawmakers in parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday. “They haven’t fully cooperated,” he said.
“KPMG is complying with all of IRBA’s requests for documents,” Nqubeko Sibiya, a spokesman for KPMG in South Africa, said in an emailed response to questions.
KPMG has become ensnared in allegations that it turned a blind eye to corruption by Gupta-linked companies and produced an inaccurate report about a so-called rogue unit at the tax authority. Some South African companies have since dropped KPMG as auditors while a business leadership body suspended its membership. The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and the central bank are also probing KPMG’s actions. The Guptas deny wrongdoing.
The auditing regulator may widen its KPMG probe to include more of its staff, clients and possibly other auditing firms, Agulhas said. “We haven’t taken away the license of the firm so far,” he said.
Last month, eight senior KPMG executives quit and the firm offered to repay the 23 million rand fee it received for the report done for the tax authorities, which was used in a police investigation into former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
KPMG’s internal inquiry criticized its work for the Guptas, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma and in business with one of his sons, and said the company should have resigned as their auditors sooner than March 2016. The report said work on the Guptas’ acquisition of a coal mine and the attendance of four KPMG partners at a Gupta family wedding was particularly questionable.
The IRBA is willing and able to refer those it suspects of criminal activities to the National Prosecuting Authority, Agulhas said. While the auditing regulator is focusing on KPMG’s report for the South African Revenue Services first, it may need to ask parliament for more resources as it delves into further allegations, he said.