EDINBURGH — The game is definitely on; from the NPA’s smashed bottleneck, to Gupta-linked company’s assets-frozen, court-legitimised fraud charges against Zuma, the belated State Capture judicial probe – the Zuptoid house of cards is tumbling fast. Add to this today’s news that the South African Companies and Intellectual Property Commission has laid criminal charges against local units of KPMG, McKinsey and Co and software giant SAP. For alleged contraventions of the Companies Act in their dealings with Eskom and the SA Revenue Services. This Gupta-linked probe began in July last year, meaning that, like the NPA and the Asset Forfeiture Unit, seasoned sleuths until-now stymied in their work by the Zuptoid vice-grip, have been beavering away, amassing hard evidence. The political cork has been pried loose through the ANC’s own ballot box, helped by the enormous pressure civil society and the media have built. The way is finally clear for us to see just how endemic Gupta-type rot is, allowing our fundamentally healthy judiciary and Constitution to clear the decks and restore accountability. Hopefully it will bring to the fore Madiba’s ‘never again’ words in describing the evils of apartheid, a system that contributed to this corruptive mess. – Chris Bateman
The cases were opened with the South African Police Service between November and December for contraventions of the country’s Companies Act, the regulator’s spokeswoman, Tshiamo Zebediela, said in an emailed response to questions on Wednesday. The CIPC “has been looking into these companies since July 2017,” she said.
The CIPC is one of the first local regulators to bring criminal complaints against the companies for their dealings with entities linked to the Gupta family, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma and in business with his son, Duduzane. Zuma and the Guptas have consistently denied any wrongdoing. It comes as the country’s prosecutors move to freeze assets held by McKinsey and a company linked to the Guptas.
The regulator pushed ahead with criminal charges following the leaking of a trove of emails last year indicating how the Guptas used their relationships with government ministers and officials to profit from state business, including from power producer Eskom Holdings SOC.
“The CIPC engaged with the respective boards of directors of KPMG, McKinsey and SAP regarding the emails that were placed in the public domain,” Zebediela said, “and based on the responses received, took a decision to open criminal cases.”
“No criminal charges have been brought against the firm and KPMG South Africa believes that there is no substance to the allegation,” it said in an emailed response to questions. “We will fully cooperate with any enquiries the police may have.”
Below is a summary of the accusations from the CIPC:
- McKinsey: The consultant may have contravened the Companies Act by informing Eskom that Trillian Capital Partners (Pty) Ltd. was acting as subcontractor for a portion of a project when McKinsey had never entered into a formal agreement with Trillian. McKinsey spokeswoman Bonita Dordel told Johannesburg-based Business Day that the firm was not involved in bribery or corruption for work related to Eskom.
- KPMG: The auditor may have failed its own risk management and quality controls when compiling a report for the South African Revenue Service and making legal conclusions that went beyond its mandate and professional expertise. KPMG is aware of the CIPC matter and the legal team isn’t available for comment, spokesman Nqubeko Sibiya said.
- SAP: The provider of compliance software’s use of an outside contractor to win business from state-owned transport company Transnet SOC Ltd. may have broken the law because SAP was aware that the contractor was not in the same line of business as SAP. SAP, which suspended its South African management team last year, didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.