KPMG has agreed to “some kind of reparations” for SA Revenue Services (Sars) officials who were “traumatised” as a result of the auditing firm’s work on the now largely retracted 2014 report into the High-Risk Investigations Unit (HRIU) and allegations it had gone “rogue”.
KPMG chair Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu confirmed this during the launch of his new book, Enabler or Victim? KPMG SA and State Capture, on Friday.
But Johann van Loggerenberg – who was previously the head of the HRIU and has publicly spoken about how the “rogue unit”
narrative “destroyed” some of his colleagues’ lives – yesterday welcomed what he described as KPMG’s “unequivocal, unambiguous acceptance that the report caused damage to people”.
“This is the first time I have seen an acceptance of culpability,” he said.
Van Loggerenberg said, however, he had no idea KPMG and Sars had been in these discussions until Friday, and raised concerns around those who were actually affected not having been involved.
Nkuhlu said while the firm had been trying to “re-establish trust” with Sars, “the issue of the people who were traumatised during the investigation came up”.
“A number of people had to seek counselling and others resigned because they were being pressurised during that time to do things they were not comfortable with,” Nkuhlu said.
He said the suggestion that KPMG should contribute towards reparations – and “the healing of those people” – had also come
up and an agreement had been reached.
“There is an understanding, on both sides, it must be done,” he said, adding the firm recognised “people were traumatised”.
He said Covid-19 had stalled the process but that it was “a matter of time”. He did not reveal any further details.
Sars spokesperson Siphiti Sibeko said yesterday they were not in a position to answer questions around the issue, and that he was prohibited from speaking about “any engagement of any kind with taxpayers”.
One of the country’s “Big Four”, KPMG has found itself entangled in a number of state capture scandals over the course of the years.
In addition to KPMG having penned the 2014 “rogue unit” report – the conclusions, recommendations and legal opinions of
which the firm has since retracted – a former KPMG audit partner was also responsible for auditing Gupta-owned Linkway Trading.
It was through this company funds meant for the Vrede dairy project were allegedly channelled into the multi-million rand Gupta wedding in Sun City in 2013.