"The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones." William Shakespeare wrote those words many centuries ago. And he did not have disgraced audit firm KPMG in mind at the time. While we will never know for sure what inspired the great poet, what we do know is how far into the future his creative juices flowed.
The partners and staff of the SA unit of KPMG now know only too well what the wages of sin are. Some of the company’s largest clients have put it on notice, or have already cut their patronage as a punishment for its 15 years of eager service to the shady characters accused of illegally capturing the state.
KPMG’s admission this week — that it had played a key part in undermining democratic institutions — may have been designed simply as an exercise to placate a restless market. But such measures as sending a few partners into the sunset were never going to be enough.
This week financial services firm Sasfin and investment firm Hulisani cut ties with KPMG. Old Mutual, Investec and Barclays Africa have said they are reviewing their association with the company. Others need to explain to their clients and customers why they have not yet cut their links with these auditors.
It would be fitting if the same fate that befell its fellow traveller, Bell Pottinger, is waiting for KPMG.