Auditing and accounting firm KPMG does not want an investigative report by its international arm into work for the Gupta family and the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS’s) so-called rogue unit report to be made public or made available to the Ntsebeza inquiry.
KPMG International was treating the document as privileged and confidential.
The inquiry, chaired by advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, started public hearings in Johannesburg on Monday.
The Ntsebeza inquiry is looking at South African Institute of Chartered Accountants members employed by KPMG whose conduct may have contravened the institute’s code of professional conduct.
KPMG found itself embroiled in allegations of state capture involving the Gupta family after a tranche of leaked e-mails.
Advocate Lerato Zikalala, for KPMG SA and KPMG International, told the inquiry the legal team would need to get instructions from clients on how to proceed and on whether they would make the report available or parts of it in a way that would not "waive privilege".
It has been proposed that KPMG International tender the report to the panel for "inspection" with strict conditions. This will mean a copy of the investigative report will not be made available to the inquiry and it will not be quoted in proceedings.
In a statement issued in September 2017, KPMG International said: "While the investigation did not identify any evidence of illegal behaviour or corruption by KPMG partners or staff, this investigation did find work that fell considerably short of KPMG’s standards."
This investigation led to the departure of nine senior KPMG executives, including former CEO Trevor Hoole.
Ntsebeza has instructed that the evidence leaders and KPMG’s legal team come to an agreement on the matter as soon as possible. If they were unable to agree, arguments would be made to the inquiry and a decision on the standing of the document would be made.
"There should be an attempt to see if this cannot be negotiated between them. If it is the entire KPMG International report then the evidence leaders must determine whether it is a report which they find is critical for this inquiry and be engaged with a dialogue with you as representatives of KPMG," Ntsebeza told the firm’s legal team.
The issue of the final SARS report was also raised. Former SARS officials implicated in the report have complained that they had sight of a draft report but not the final report.
The inquiry heard KPMG had sent the final SARS report to the secretariat last Friday.
It was unclear if the former SARS employees would also have access to it.