Ex-SARS execs go for KPMG jugular as firm hits existential crisis.

KPMG is scrambling to close the stable door months after being implicated as a lead horse in the state capture stable. For good reason. Its challenge has become existential. Defunct Big Five audit firm Arthur Andersen’s pockets were deeper and its malfeasance less.

Yesterday, the hastily appointed new SA leadership of the Gupta auditors met with some of the former SA Revenue Services executives whose careers it destroyed. The meeting was almost a year after gory details of KPMG’s facilitation were laid bare in Johann van Loggerenberg’s book Rogue: The Inside story of SARS’s Elite Crime Busting Unit. Given the publicity the book attracted, nobody at KPMG can claim ignorance.

Not surprising under the circumstances, the Gupta auditors received no quarter yesterday. A post-meeting statement from Ivan Pillay, Peter Richer, Yolisa Pikie and Adrian Lackay notes “KPMG’s conduct has caused immense harm to a number of experienced individuals, their reputations and careers…(and) caused intractable economic harm and uncertainty.”

Clearly, topping the agenda was the scale of compensation. KPMG is a global firm which has admitted culpability, apologised and offered to refund the report’s R23m fee. It is on the hook and squirming. But that’s not going to save it. Right now only hard cash will do. And lots of it.