Johannesburg, 22 February 2018 – The Ntsebeza Inquiry, established by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) in November 2017 with the aim of independently investigating allegations against some of its members employed by KPMG, kicked off with testimonies from key SAICA personnel, including its CEO,Terence Nombembe, on Monday, 19 March 2018.
The Ntsebeza Inquiry, established by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) in November 2017 with the aim of independently investigating allegations against some of its members employed by KPMG, kicked off with testimonies from key SAICA personnel, including its CEO,Terence Nombembe, on Monday, 19 March 2018.
Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, who chairs the Inquiry Panel, says he is pleased with SAICA CEO’s commitment to the process. Nombembe told the Inquiry that it should not leave any stone unturned. “That is exactly what we intend to do,” says Advocate Ntsebeza SC.
It is clear from the testimonies heard so far that Chartered Accountants undergo rigorous training, premised on a competency framework and SAICA’s Code of Professional Conduct. It is also clear that protecting the public interest is ingrained in them, as being part of what is expected of them as CAs(SA), throughout their training. “These testimonies have provided us with the context within which to assess the conduct of the implicated individuals,” says Advocate Ntsebeza SC.
Adri Kleinhans, Project Director: Training at SAICA, told the Inquiry Panel that adherence to the Code of Professional Conduct stretches beyond members to include trainees as well.
The evidence leaders, Advocate Pule Seleka SC and Advocate Amaechi Olua, told the Panel that they are in possession of a list of 47 current and former KPMG employees who have been implicated in the submissions, but are certain that it is not the full extent of the list. The Inquiry Panel awaits more names of individuals, who were part of engagements with organisations that have been mentioned in the submissions, within the context of the relevant period, to be provided by KPMG.
The Panel met with legal representatives of both KMPG and implicated individuals on 21 February 2018. The legal representatives indicated that their clients needed more time to prepare themselves for the hearings. Advocate Ntsebeza SC says that the Panel had to take all parties’ interest into account. “Although we are committed to sticking to the timeframe set by SAICA, we need to ensure that, in the interest of fairness, everyone who will be adversely impacted upon by submissions and what witnesses tell us on the stand, must be given a fair opportunity to prepare themselves and cross-examine witnesses. It is wise to say that when we hurry, we hurry slowly so
that we should not be accused of not having been sensitive to the fact that people’s lives will be affected,” says Advocate Ntsebeza.
Consequently the Panel decided to adjourn until 8 March 2018, when the first individual among those who had supplied the Inquiry with submissions will be heard. Advocate Ntsebeza SC says the Panel believes that the period until 8 March allows for a fair period of preparation.
“In the interim, the Inquiry will busy itself with everything that we need to do to ensure readiness. This includes locating all the implicated members of SAICA, which has been a bit of a challenge,” says Advocate Ntsebeza SC. The evidence leaders had indicated that in some cases they were not yet sure whether all the implicated individuals would come in with legal representation.
The evidence leaders have already been in numerous discussions with various legal representatives and noted the willingness to cooperate.
“We are not sitting in a court of law. We are on a fact-finding mission and must ensure that nobody is gagged and that everyone is able to present their case,” says Advocate Ntsebeza SC.
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Ms Tebogo Motsai
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