KPMG South Africa executive chairman Wiseman Nkuhlu has asked for patience in an open letter to South African citizens acknowledging the firms failures over the last 18 months.

Nkuhlu wrote: “When I joined the firm in March, I was under no illusion as to the challenge we faced. KPMG had made a number of serious mistakes and lost the trust of the public and clients.

“We had lost sight of our responsibility to serve the broader public interest, and not only our own commercial interests and those of our clients.”

He highlighted the firms failings over the work conducted for the Gupta family and questioned how it happened that partners of the firm violated the Code of Professional Conduct and ‘breached the ethical and quality control standards of the firm’.

Nkuhlu continued: “It is appropriate to repeat to fellow South Africans our apology for work that caused real hurt and damage to South African institutions and our fellow South Africans. We failed by our own standards and we let the country down.

“I realise that regaining public trust will not happen quickly. Understandably, people will want to judge KPMG not just by its words, but also by its deeds.”

In the letter he pointed to the attempts the firm has made to rebuild trust since the scandals unfolded, such as the appointment of Ignatius Sehoole as CEO in November and the donation of the fees earned from Gupta entities to civil society organisations.

Closing the letter, Nkuhlu made several appeals to the South African public. He asked for recognition that the business is very different to what it was 18 months ago, patience while the firm continues to try and demonstrate how it has changed, and for the publics’ permission to allow the firm to ‘play a positive role in the business community and the life of the nation’.