(Bloomberg) KPMG Southern Africa, a member of the global advisory network, has ended a 15-year stint auditing companies controlled by the Johannesburg-based Gupta family, after the ruling party and the national graft ombudsman announced investigations into its alleged influence over the state.
KPMG Southern Africa Chief Executive Officer Trevor Hoole said the “association risk is too great” following the recent “media and political interest in the Gupta family,” Johannesburg-based Fin24 reported in a story carried on the website of Engineering News, citing an internal e-mail.
“Our very clear understanding is that this was a very reluctant decision on their behalf,” the Gupta family’s Oakbay Investments said in an e-mailed response to questions on Friday. “KPMG confirmed to Oakbay that no audit reason whatsoever contributed to this development.”
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas last month said that members of the Gupta family had offered him the Finance Minister’s job, prompting other senior members of the ruling African National Congress to make similar claims. Jonas said he turned them down and few days later Nhlanhla Nene was relieved of the post and replaced by little-known lawmaker David van Rooyen. The ANC and the country’s Public Protector, which probes graft, are now looking into the allegations, all of which the Gupta family denies.
The three Gupta brothers have been friends with current South African President Jacob Zuma since 2000 and have employed or been in business with his son for 11 years.
Carel Smit, KPMG Southern Africa’s sales and marketing head, said he “was aware” of the decision, when he was reached by phone. He declined to comment further.
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