Danny McCance 6 Jul 2018 12:59pm

Former KPMG SA partner faces six charges in Gupta case

Jacques Wessels, former lead partner on the audits of non-listed Gupta entities and auditor of Linkway Trading, is facing six charges from the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA)

The South African audit watchdog has charged Wessels with improper conduct for his work on Linkway Trading.

The charges include, among other things, dishonesty in performance of professional services duties, and contravention or failure to comply with certain provisions in set out in the Auditing and Act and Auditing Profession Act. The hearing was yesterday and evidence was presented by the lead witness Janica Boschoff.

In a speech in August 2017, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane produced a 200-page indictment that included allegations of Linkway Trading’s involvement in a scheme to launder public funds earmarked for a Vrede Dairy Farm project.

Linkway Trading was one of the companies allegedly involved in a scheme to misappropriate the funds that were then used to pay for a Gupta family wedding in Sun City in 2013.

"KPMG South Africa instituted disciplinary proceedings against Jacques Wessels […] when these issues came to light last year,” a KPMG spokesperson said.

The firm, which is co-operating fully with the investigation, said it acknowledged that some of its audit work on the Gupta entities “fell well short of the quality expected” and that “the audit team failed to apply sufficient professional scepticism and to comply fully with auditing standards”.

The hearing will reconvene on 4 August to hear oral evidence from the parties, and a judgement is expected to be made 30 days thereafter.

Wessels left KPMG in September 2017, at the same time that the firm saw a mass exodus of its senior management following revelations in the Gupta scandal.

 In January, the IRBA said that one of its lines of investigation was “nearing completion” and others were progressing “satisfactorily”, while at the same time the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission opened an investigation into the firm.