No one wants Guptas' cash, not even KPMG
In bid to rescue its reputation, KPMG to donate its Gupta fees to ‘education and anti-corruption initiatives’
Embattled auditing firm KPMG wants to donate its Gupta fees to “education and anti-corruption initiatives”.
Last year the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) threw out R1.2-million gifted to its Thuthuka Bursary Fund by the controversial family’s company, Trillian. Now KPMG wants to donate R40-million it received in fees from one of the “Gupta-related entities to NGOs involved in education and anti-corruption initiatives”.
In an advert over the weekend, the firm called for education funding proposals.“This commitment was made as an acknowledgment of mistakes we have made in the past, and is part of a broader strategy to ensure that we become more actively involved in making a suitable contribution towards pressing societal challenges facing the country,” the advert reads.
“This commitment resides alongside the firm’s reforms that ensure we uphold the highest ethical and professional standards and understand our responsibility to be good corporate citizens. To enhance KPMG’s independence from beneficiary organisations, anti-corruption will be supported via conduit funds or implementing agents who will be sourced based on credibility, capability and capacity of the organisations.”According to the firm, the money will be split equally between organisations involved in anti-corruption and educational initiatives.
But branding specialist and futurist Jonathan Cherry said KPMG has a difficult task on its hands. Cherry said unlike companies that sell physical products, companies in the financial sector thrive on their reputation and KPMG’s is in tatters.
“It will really be difficult for KPMG to recover its reputation. It will depend mainly on how the company conducts itself going forward,” said Cherry.
“The frustrating thing with these big companies is that they refuse to be transparent. These guys make large amounts of money but there is a veil of opaqueness. Headlines have been relentless for years. There haven’t been many scandals around KPMG but unfortunately they have fallen in the category.”Earlier this year, the firm announced it had paid back the R23-million payment it received from the SA Revenue Service (SARS) for the investigation it had conducted into the controversial “rogue unit”.
KPMG withdrew its findings, recommendations and conclusions of the SARS report last year. It also found itself entangled in the state capture allegations.
The report was the basis of criminal charges against former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and former top SARS officials – none of whom had been given a chance to respond when KPMG conducted its probe.
KPMG has made submissions to the Saica inquiry, headed by Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, into whether KPMG members registered with the body violated the industry code of ethics.
EFF leader Julius Malema took Saica to task over the Trillian donation. He objected to Terence Nombembe being named as the head of the investigation in the state capture inquiry. Malema said Saica received the money during Nombembe’s tenure as CEO and at the time “it was common cause and public knowledge that Trillian Capital was used as a corruption vehicle by the Gupta’s criminal syndicate and had received more than R500-million from Eskom”.
Saica said its board resolved to return the donation a month after the release of the damning Trillian report, which revealed links to Eskom and McKinsey.