Gupta kickbacks: 8 questions that Germany’s Software AG must answer

JOHANNESBURG — Germany’s Software AG has emerged as the latest international company to find itself entangled in the Gupta kickback web. News24, amaBhungane and Scorpio reported on Tuesday morning that the Gupta email leaks show that Software AG entered into a deal with Gupta-linked Global Softech Solutions (GSS) in a bid to win an R180m contract from Transnet. GSS was little more than a front to ultimately secure revenue for the Guptas, the report indicated. What’s interesting is that the dots are starting to be joined ever more. High-flying Software AG sales director Riaaz Jeena – who created a second sales commission agreement to benefit himself with GSS deals –  further had an additional connection to GSS as his wife, Fehmeda Alibhai, worked for Sahara Systems. There’s a further dot to connect. Lawrence Kandaswami – a managing director of SAP’s South African Business who has been suspended from his post amid a SAP probe into a similar Gupta kickback scandal – first introduced Software AG to GSS. BizNews contacted Software AG with a series of questions and received the comment further posted below. What’s clear is that Software AG has not answered our questions in full. There are burning questions that need to be answered, and we’ll reiterate these questions below. – Gareth van Zyl

Software AG
Software AG

On Tuesday, 25 July 2017, BizNews sent Software AG’s German headquarters six questions regarding the latest saga that the company is involved with. This is the response we received from Byung-Hun Park, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Communications & Marketing Germany for Software AG.

“Software AG is not aware of any non-compliant business practices in its South Africa operations. Based on current media speculations, the company has started an internal review. Please understand that Software AG cannot make further comment until this review has been completed.”

Subsequently, we sent further questions asking whether executives will be flown to South Africa to carry out the review and whether Software AG is at risk of having broken German law. Anti-corruption laws in Germany prohibit “facilitation payments”, and impose huge penalties on offenders, even if the offence has happened outside German borders. Mr Park was willing to divulge a little more information in an email response to us:

“Software AG has a compliance board that is currently gathering information and conducting interview. Please understand that we are in the beginning of this review and therefore cannot comment further for the time being. I will keep you informed on further progresses.”

This is the only information made public so far. Here are the questions from BizNews that, to date, have still gone unanswered from Software AG.

  1. SAP, which was also involved in a similar scandal, has suspended its South African management and flown out execs to investigate. Will Software AG do the same?
  2. Will Software AG suspend your sales director Riaaz Jeena possibly?

    Riaaz Jeena. (Pic: LinkedIn)
    Riaaz Jeena. (Pic: LinkedIn)
  3. Is it normal for sales directors at Software AG to create “a second sales commission agreement seemingly to ensure that he too would receive a slice of the pie” as News24 reported this morning?
  4. For how long has Software AG been doing business with the Guptas?
  5. Have the South African police started investigating Software AG?
  6. Are European or US legislators investigating Software AG amid this scandal?
  7. Germany’s anti-corruption laws (see link here) specifically prohibit “facilitation payments”, and impose huge penalties on offenders. Is Software AG not at risk of this with its South African operation?
  8. Also, what does an internal review mean? Would you be flying a team over to SA?
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