Lost cause? KPMG is struggling to survive the reputation damage it suffered due to the scandal of the Gupta family’s links to the firm. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO /REUTERS
Lost cause? KPMG is struggling to survive the reputation damage it suffered due to the scandal of the Gupta family’s links to the firm. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO /REUTERS

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants has thrown its weight behind calls for an independent judicial enquiry into the work that disgraced international auditing firm KPGM did for the Gupta family‚ including its dodgy report into the South African Revenue Service’s so-called "rogue unit".

But the institute’s chief executive officer‚ Terrance Nombembe‚ would not say when the institute would conduct its review of KPMG staffs’ actions. Nor would he say whether it would call those people named in SARS’ rogue report to testify in its disciplinary processes. The revenue service used the report to fire‚ among others‚ the finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Nombembe‚ who spoke on Friday night‚ said the institute had received requests from various groups‚ including big business‚ for the KPMG matter to be dealt with "emphatically".

"The requests on what we are expected to do are significant. We take a strong stand against unethical behaviour‚" said Nombembe.

He said the institute would support any initiative to address concerns about unethical behaviour. "The reputation of South Africa’s chartered accountants has received a significant setback from this week’s events."

Although the institute supported the call for an independent inquiry‚ it not be conducted the probe‚ "even though the institution has responsibility to take members through a disciplinary processes".

"Given the complexity of the matter the inquiry will be conducted by a retired judge or advocate."

The judicial inquiry would not contradict‚ interfere or obstruct any other investigation‚ including that being conducted by the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors.

"This is about [the institute] supporting an independent inquiry so that disciplinary action against our members‚ who have breached our codes‚ may be speeded up.

"The inquiry will extend to all chartered accountants involved in all audit and non-audit work referenced to [the Guptas]."

The judicial inquiry’s findings would be used to complement inquiries by other regulatory bodies and in any disciplinary action against the institute’s members who brought the profession into disrepute.

Asked whether the institute would look at disciplining the chief financial officers of state-owned entities such as Eskom’s suspended Anoj Singh‚ Nombembe said it would.

On when the institute’s disciplinary procedures would begin‚ he said the normal process was to wait for companies disciplinary processes or inquiries to be completed.

"Given the urgency we do not expect any delay in this inquiry‚" he added. "Should those processes take longer than reasonably expected‚ we will find mechanisms to speed up our preliminary assessments on what the right sanctions could be against those implicated in any unethical behaviour."

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