ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NTSEBEZA INQUIRY
Johannesburg, 28 May 2018 - The Ntsebeza Inquiry is entering the final stage of its work. This is according to Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, who said that the Panel is currently wrapping up and will soon start to write its report.
The Inquiry Panel and SAICA’s Board have agreed that the Panel will complete its report by the end of June 2018.
The Panel, which was originally tasked by SAICA to complete its mandate by end of April 2018, was delayed due to requests by various parties for extensions to the submission period, legal arguments as well as the availability of relevant parties.
The scope of the Inquiry, which was tasked with a fact-finding mission into the conduct of current and former members of SAICA employed by KPMG, included the period January 2013 to September 2017. Although the general public would be most interested in the allegations in relation to the KPMG report on the so-called SARS ‘rogue’ unit and the KPMG audits on Gupta-related entities, the Terms of Reference was not limited to those cases only. “The Panel had to review all submissions, including those which the public may not find sensational,” says Adv. Ntsebeza SC.
Submissions other than the SARS and Gupta-related issues dealt with by the Panel include matters such as how an executor had dealt with a deceased estate, allegations of fraud being ignored, financial statements not prepared in accordance with IFRS, incorrect financial statements and an irregular payment that had been condoned.
“We are sensitive to the fact that the auditing profession is under immense pressure and that many of KPMG’s clients are awaiting our report. Indeed, the world is watching,” says Adv. Ntsebeza SC.
Adv. Ntsebeza SC indicated however that the Panel did not receive complete cooperation from all parties it had engaged. “Although we had great cooperation from many, in some instances we were disappointed by the lack of understanding of our role,” he said. The Inquiry was tasked with finding the facts and determining whether there is prima facie evidence that point to a need for SAICA’s disciplinary processes to kick in. “It is not within the ambit of our mandate to determine guilt or not. That’s for SAICA to decide, and in the case of registered auditors, it would be in the hands of IRBA,” says Adv. Ntsebeza SC.
After seven consecutive years of sitting in the World Economic Forum’s top spot for its auditing and reporting standards, South Africa tumbled to 30th in 2017. This is naturally not good for a South Africa that has been struggling to get its economy on a stronger footing.
“It is important to note that our job was to look into the conduct of Chartered Accountants, who in some cases are also Registered Auditors, and that we have not been confined to the auditing space,” says Ntsebeza SC. While the Inquiry only looked into the conduct of individuals, KPMG itself was of interest insofar as its policies and relevant documents are concerned, as well as its willingness to make its employees available to appear before the Panel.
Adv. Ntsebeza SC pointed to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference and stated that the Panel is not confined to only look at submissions received. “We were also tasked with reviewing media reports. We are applying our minds to the degree in which such reports should be considered, including more recent reports that refer to issues that would fall within our relevant period,” he said.
Chartered Accountants throughout South Africa are naturally anxious to see those who have damaged their profession’s reputation be held accountable after appropriate due disciplinary process. The profession, which sits with considerable knowledge and power in the governance sphere, has a huge responsibility in relation to the protection of the public’s interest.
“We are hoping that our report will assist the profession in its self-reflection and will illuminate areas where corrective action is needed,” says Adv. Ntsebeza SC.
In order to address the queries received from the public and the media, the Inquiry has created a Frequently Asked Questions document, which can be found on SAICA’s website.
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