‘A number of individuals had to hunt counselling, while others resigned.’
KPMG has agreed to “some quite reparations” for SA Revenue Services (Sars) officials who were “traumatised” as a results 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.
He said while the firm had been trying to “re-establish trust” with Sars, “the issue of the people that were traumatised during the investigation came up”.
“A number of individuals had to hunt counselling et al. resigned because they were being pressurised during that point to try to to things they weren’t comfortable with,” Nkuhlu said,
He said the suggestion that KPMG should contribute towards reparations – and “the healing of these people” – had also come up and an agreement had been reached.
“There is an understanding, on each side , it must be done,” he said, adding the firm recognised “people were traumatised”.
He said Covid-19 had stalled the method but that it had been “a matter of time”. He didn’t reveal any longer details.
Sars spokesperson Siphiti Sibeko said yesterday they weren’t during a position to answer questions round the issue, which he was prohibited from speaking about “any engagement of any kind with taxpayers”.
But Johann van Loggerenberg – who was previously the top of the HRIU and has publicly spoken about how the “rogue unit” narrative “destroyed” a number of his colleagues’ lives – yesterday welcomed what he described as KPMG’s “unequivocal, unambiguous acceptance that the report caused damage to people”.
“This is that the first time I even have seen an acceptance of culpability,” he said.
He said, however, he had no idea KPMG and Sars had been in these discussions until Friday, and raised concerns around those that were actually affected not having been involved.
One of the country’s “Big Four”, KPMG has found itself entangled during 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 liable for auditing Gupta-owned Linkway Trading. it had been 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.