ROB ROSE: Audit watchdog AWOL in EOH debacle
SA’s largest technology company is still battling to resolve a 2018 scandal – and it’s getting no help from the audit regulator
It’s a bizarre story: a CEO arguing his auditors must recognise the impact of fraud and errors in earlier accounts, and the auditors arguing this isn’t necessary. The fact that it’s happening at SA’s largest technology company, EOH, at which ex-banker Stephen van Coller has spent the better part of two years unravelling a litany of fraud, makes it all the more intriguing. And yet, Van Coller would be forgiven for feeling he’s been waging a lone battle for accountability, as SA’s audit regulator has gone AWOL.
For years, EOH was the superstar investment on the JSE. At least 13,000 individuals, including pensioners, bought the story and invested. But then it went tragically wrong, to the extent that R10,000 invested in EOH in 2017 is worth just R384 today. There’s still a business — it services 2,500 of SA’s largest companies and employs over 8,500 people — but a R1.2bn fraud, from 2014 to 2017, spooked investors. It’s a story yet to be fully told, with all the ingredients for a...