Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) said on Friday its board has decided to suspend the membership of Kpmg SA, pending the outcome of an independent investigation into the auditing firm’s involvement in conduct related to state capture in South Africa.
This follows a process of engagement with KPMG, allowing them to fully present their case, and consideration of the perspective of other important actors, such as the regulators, the BLSA said in a statement.
"We want to emphasise that our members remain unfettered by this announcement in how they respond in terms of individual engagement with KPMG," it said. BLSA added that it recognises "the considerable steps" announced by KPMG to change its leadership and commence a process of "cultural change".
It cannot, however, look past the gravity of conduct which is, in the view of BLSA, is completely inconsistent with its values.
"While KPMG has badly let itself down in South Africa, BLSA recognises that the overwhelming bulk of KPMG’s staff are committed, honourable and diligent individuals who were not implicated in 'state capture' activities. They and the firm remain an asset to the South African economy," reads the BLSA statement.
BLSA CEO Bonang Mohale said the organisation is deeply concerned by what it regards as the unethical and unprofessional conduct that KPMG engaged in in South Africa.
"The firm became party to the project of 'state capture' which has harmed our country, victimised certain individuals and damaged the reputation of business," claimed Mohale.
BLSA believes an expeditiously managed independent inquiry is needed as well as full disclosure on the part of KPMG to uncover the extent and role of those involved in what it calls "the state capture project". It would like to see anyone found to be in breach of the law prosecuted.
"Corruption is unacceptable wherever it shows its face, and business should never be party to the widespread corruption in all levels of government and in state-owned enterprises," said Mohale.
"KPMG will do society a considerable service if it assists in this process through full participation in an independent inquiry.”