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By Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

Approved bursaries not affected, says KPMG on R16.5m fraud by its former employee

KPMG SA's CEO said the firm had honoured all its commitments following the alleged fraud by its former bursary specialist Fidelis Moema.

KPMG said it played a significant role in the arrest of former employee Fidelis Moema, and none of its approved bursars were affected by his alleged fraud.

It also said it has implemented additional measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The accounting firm’s CEO in South Africa, Ignatius Sehoole, released a statement on Friday concerning its former bursary specialist who appeared in the Commercial Crimes Court at Palm Ridge on Tuesday, after being charged by the Hawks for allegedly diverting more than R16 million in bursary funds to his own pockets.

Bursary fraud at KPMG

“KPMG South Africa played an integral part leading to the arrest of former employee, Fidelis Moema, following the firm identifying potential fraud committed against the firm,” Sehoole said.

“Mr Moema was dismissed as an employee of KPMG on 11 November 2022, following a stringent disciplinary process related to non-compliance with firm policies.

“Subsequent to his dismissal, KPMG identified potential fraud committed by Mr. Moema and immediately initiated an internal forensic investigation.

“This investigation uncovered fraudulent behaviour related to bursary funds and as a result, we reported the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities in February 2023. We continue to work closely with the authorities to bring this matter to a close.”

ALSO READ: Former KPMG staffer’s lavish lifestyle revealed after R16.5m fraud arrest

Sehoole said while the firm had internal controls in place to mitigate such issues, a forensic investigation found improvements and additional measures of control have been implemented since the discovery of the alleged fraud.

“With regards to the bursaries, all monies misappropriated was through an elaborate scheme of fictitious accounts, overriding of internal controls and deliberate collusion with external parties,” the CEO added.

“KPMG’s approved bursars have not been impacted, the firm has honoured all its commitments, and the bursary programme will continue to support students in enhancing the profession.

“The most disappointing aspect of this situation is the lost opportunity to assist additional students.”

‘Fraud landscape at an all-time high’

Sehoole said the South African fraud landscape was at an all-time high and all businesses had to constantly reinvent and implement additional controls to adjust to this “ever-changing, volatile” situation.

“The forensic investigation identified collusion by Mr Moema with external parties but did not identify others within KPMG involved in the scheme.

“We have a team of highly skilled, ethical and professional people working in our firm, and this is not affected as a result of this case.

“As a business that is committed to ensuring ethical business practice and holding people accountable for their actions, we will continue to work with the law enforcement authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to book and held accountable for his actions.”

The CEO concluded that the firm has a zero-tolerance approach to unethical behaviour and any person found to be involved in it will be dealt with.

“I remain firm in this endeavour and as a firm we continue to drive an agenda underpinned by ethics and accountability.”

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Lavish lifestyle revealed on social media posts

Social media platform X was abuzz on Thursday as users revisited the lavish lifestyle of Moema.

Users on X found posts by Moema’s purported girlfriend and influencer Sthe Bhengu depicting the lavish overseas holidays and extravagant gifts the two enjoyed.

These include a black Range Rover SUV “push gift” he allegedly gifted Bhengu when she was pregnant in 2022.

Additional reporting by  Getrude Makhafola.

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fraud KPMG money laundering The Hawks theft