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GUPTA CURSE: Tight-lipped Software AG reveals sales lead Riaaz Jeena has quit

JOHANNESBURG — German headquartered tech firm Software AG has been among the more frustrating companies to deal with when it’s come to getting responses regarding its involvement with the Guptas. And the company’s latest statement today again illustrates this. Just to recap: an amaBhungane story in July last year revealed how Software AG stood accused of paying kickbacks to Gupta front Global Softech Solutions (GSS) to win a R180m deal from Transnet. Software AG sales director, Riaaz Jeena, was intimately involved with the deal and even created a second sales commission agreement to benefit himself from Software AG’s business with GSS. Meanwhile, Jeena’s wife, Fehmeda Alibhai, also worked for the Guptas’ Sahara Systems. After months of trying to get more extensive answers from Software AG, the company today released a brief statement, which I can only describe as a sanitised response. Software AG says it employed law firm Adams & Adams to probe its GSS deal and that the investigation found “no evidence of corruption”. However, in its statement, Software AG says a payment to GSS “did not have sufficient supporting documentation” and that it subsequently instituted disciplinary proceedings against Jeena regarding this transgression. It then says that Jeena quit “with immediate effect” before a disciplinary hearing against him even started. There are a few issues here. Firstly, Software AG has not released the full Adams & Adams report (we’ve asked Software AG for a copy). Secondly, Software AG will need to explain more about what exact charges Jeena faced. The fact that Jeena quit with immediate effect before facing the music is highly suspicious. UPDATE: In response to our questions to Software AG regarding its latest statement, a company spokesperson said: “No further details for the time being. We are currently collecting all questions and will provide answers soon.” – Gareth van Zyl

Riaaz Jeena, Sales Director of Software AG South Africa

SOFTWARE AG STATEMENT

Following coverage in the media concerning potential improper arrangements between Software AG South Africa and Global Softech Solutions (GSS), the Software AG Group issues the following statement:

1. Software AG has viewed the media coverage in a serious light. In the context of conducting an internal audit, Software AG engaged Adams & Adams, a reputable South African law firm, to conduct an impartial review of the company’s business conduct with GSS.

2. The review did not reveal any evidence of corruption. However, it did reveal a payment made to GSS in 2015 (prior to its acquisition by Sahara Systems) that did not have sufficient supporting documentation in accordance with Software AG’s corporate governance standards.

3. Following the review, disciplinary proceedings were instituted against the Sales Director, Mr. Riaaz Jeena. Before the disciplinary hearing, Mr. Jeena tendered his resignation with immediate effect.

4. Software AG reiterates that the review found no evidence of corruption, personal gain or an
improper business relationship with GSS. There was no evidence that, as a result of the payment made to GSS, Software AG gained any undue business advantage. In addition, there was no evidence that any improper business activities were conducted by GSS with any Software AG customer or prospect.

5. To ensure ongoing ethical business practices, the Software AG Group Board nominated Augusto Abbarchi, Global Senior Vice President, as its representative in the South African subsidiary since October 2017.

6. Software AG cannot comment regarding allegations involving any other parties.

7. Software AG remains committed to an ethical business approach and to an ongoing review and improvement of its business practices to maintain the highest possible corporate governance standards.

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