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KPMG South Africa admits firm’s failings

KPMG South Africa has admitted failures which have led to the tarnishing of the profession’s reputation in South Africa, following South Africa’s Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors’ (IRBA) CEO Bernard Agulhas call for a line to be drawn in the sand so that the profession can start to rebuild trust and confidence.

The IRBA issued the statement to address the current ‘crisis’ of the audit profession, which has had its credibility questioned over the last 11 months due to a range of scandals.

Agulhas said: “An unprecedented crisis also calls for unprecedented measures. As a result, the IRBA has taken the unusual step of mobilising a specialised team specifically to do a review of KPMG’s turnaround strategy and the initiatives it is implementing internally to address any identified weaknesses in its operations.

“The independent review and assessment will commence during next week and form part of a continuous process to monitor improvements to the firm’s operations.”

KPMG South Africa issued a statement in response, which welcomed the comments and said that the firm will co-operate with the independent review.

The firm has been involved with a range of scandals over the last year which began with their involvement with the Gupta family who were accused of using government funding to pay for a family member’s wedding.

The firm was also scrutinised over their audit work for the collapsed VBS bank.

Most recently, Barclays Africa Group decided to cut ties with KPMG due to their faltering reputation.

In April, KPMG South Africa attempted to alleviate the scrutiny of the profession’s reputation by taking measures, including conducting background checks of all their partners.

Despite the reputational damage the profession has undergone, Agulhas noted that there are positives to be taken from the last year: “A crisis is necessary sometimes, to make everyone take a good a look at themselves. We believe that it has refocused the broader profession to look at ethics, policies, and quality so there would be positive changes emanating from the crisis.”

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