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March 28, 2019

Linkway Trading auditor struck from IRBA register

By Joe Pickard

Former KPMG South Africa auditor Jacques Wessels, who was responsible for the audits of Gupta family owned Linkway Trading, has been struck from the register of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA).

Last year, Wessels faced six charges of improper conduct which he pleaded guilty to at the commencement of the disciplinary proceedings.

Two of the six charges involved allegations of dishonesty, three charges related to negligence and one charge related to a breach of auditor independence. All the charges originated from auditing the annual financial statements of Linkway Trading for the year ended 28 February 2014.

After considering sanctions holistically and not on an individual charge basis, the disciplinary committee ordered that the registration of Wessels as a registered auditor be cancelled and that his name be removed from the IRBA register. In addition, Wessels was ordered to pay a contribution towards the IRBA’s costs.

This is the first matter arising from the Gupta Leaks to reach a disciplinary conclusion and sanction.

The charges against Wessels included audit work related to transactions for the Gupta wedding held in 2013, which saw public money being syphoned into Gupta accounts to fund the wedding.

KPMG South Africa has been battling to rebuild its reputation in the country following high-profile scrutiny, a loss of clients, and a ban from public sector auditing which resulted from the work it conducted for Gupta family owned entities.

At the end of last year, the firm employed a new CEO from outside of the business to boost trust and also donated the fees it earned from Gupta businesses to organisations helping to promote ethical leadership. It also published its first integrated report earlier this month to set a roadmap for the firm’s renewal.

IAB has approached KPMG South Africa for comment and will update this article once a response has been received.

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