Future uncertain for Ntsebeza hearings into KMPG's 'rogue report'
SARS is considering withdrawing its complaint against KPMG
Days after the suspension of SARS commissioner Tom Moyane, the revenue service is mulling a possible withdrawal of its complaint against auditing firm KPMG over the infamous “SARS report”, a spokesman for the revenue service confirmed.
On Friday, a SARS legal representative told the chairman of the inquiry, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, and the inquiry panel members that, “in light of leadership” changes at SARS, “it was unlikely” that SARS would pursue its complaint.
SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela told Times Select on Tuesday that SARS was now considering the way forward.
“SARS is considering its options on the Ntsebeza Inquiry. At present SARS is not in a position to provide details or comment,” Memela said.
In September last year Moyane, during a press briefing, was unequivocal in his anger at KPMG for withdrawing the recommendations in its report, which had looked into allegations of a rogue unit at SARS that had allegedly spied on former president Jacob Zuma.
The report led to a well-documented purge of senior executives at SARS and resulted in the relentless hounding of former SARS commissioner Pravin Gordhan, against whom criminal charges were pursued based on findings in the report.At a press conference following KPMG’s announcement, Moyane vowed to take action against the firm, saying SARS was taken aback by the “aberrant and unethical conduct of KPMG”.
Times Select has since established that the resulting SARS complaint is one of five forming the basis of the Ntsebeza Inquiry, which was convened by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) to investigate possible breaches of its code of conduct by Saica members who worked for KPMG.
KPMG has repeatedly voiced its support of the inquiry and has, but for a few hiccups, co-operated fully in providing documents to the panel.
Moyane was suspended by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month and Mark Kingon has been asked to act as commissioner until a permanent replacement is appointed.
The inquiry, which has been beset with delays and threats of legal action by those implicated, must still according to its terms of reference look into allegations of misconduct by individual KPMG auditors involved in auditing the Gupta companies.
But it is limited to probing allegations against Saica members – a membership that is not compulsory according to evidence led by Saica officials at the inquiry.
The remaining individual complaints do not deal with individuals at KPMG involved in the Gupta or SARS debacles but rather touch on separate issues.
But the withdrawal of the complaint by SARS to Saica does not mean KPMG is in the clear.
It was previously reported that the auditing firm was still facing investigation by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA), which has broad powers to force KPMG to provide documentation and could impose stronger sanctions on auditors found to have breached policies.
In January, IRBA confirmed in a statement on its website that its investigation into KPMG – which is entirely independent of the Ntsebeza Inquiry – was progressing satisfactorily.
MMMG Attorneys, who were appointed as the secretariat for the Ntsebeza Inquiry, have yet to respond to questions put to them.