Use scalpel on state capture ‘not sledgehammer’

KPMG-biznews

Accelerate Cape Town has made a call for the “scalp-hunting” exercise involving KPMG to come to an end. At its AGM at the weekend, Ryan Ravens, Accelerate’s chief executive officer, called for caution in the way the State Capture fallout could wound a century old business

It is clear that Accelerate Cape Town has a vested interest in KPMG carrying on a sound business in Cape Town. It is one of its member organisations and it is building a spanking new building on the city’s rapidly developing foreshore area of the CBD.

Indeed, KPMG was even a sponsor of its AGM. Ravens told the assembled crowd of top Cape Town businessmen that KPMG had been in the country for 100 years. It employed 4000 people countrywide. “Less than one percent of that staff complement are culpable in some way and have supported the state capture project in some way,” Ravens said.

He expressed concern that the business of KPMG could be irreparably damaged by the fallout. Already he noted calls that Allan Gray – also a member of Accelerate – and Grant Thornton should be taken to the cleaners, so to speak. It was “a slippery slope”. If business gave into to this “notion of scalp-hunting… and the sort of mob mentality we see out there… where does it end?”

He said brands did not commit these heinous acts. They were committed by individuals inside the organisations.

“All the people that I have worked with over the last two years (at KPMG) have demonstrated nothing but the highest ethical behaviour. I think it is grossly unfair… there are calls out there… to shut this entire firm down. ”

“The people in the Western Cape could not have been further removed from what happened at Sun City and what happened at SARS. “

Where does the witch-hunting end. “Where does it stop?” asked Ravens, noting that there was a sort of mob-mentality out there.

While he said the media played a key role in the society, its power should not be extended to the point that it could bring down big brands willy nilly.

Noting that Accelerate Cape Town was focused on encouraging investors to establish themselves in the Western Cape region, Ravens urged business to focus on where the wrongdoing was done and not paint an entire organisation with the same brush. “Let us go after the guilty individuals. What is called for in this situation is more of a scalpel and less of a sledgehammer.”

“Let us engage with this. Let us engage about what is best for the country, so that we can stamp out corruption but not in a massively destructive manner.”

Noting that business was still divided over the State Capture project, Accelerate Cape Town went through a soul searching to determine its response to this matter. While it remained a Western Cape focused organisation, he said Accelerate Cape Town was working with Business Leadership South Africa it maintained a national focus.

Recently former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told EWN that KPMG leaders were willing partners in state capture.  He said the leaders of KPMG in South Africa needed to understand they had played a major role as willing partners in the state capture project – led by the Guptas in collaboration with the Zumas. Gordhan called for a change in culture of the entire organisation.

The auditing firm withdrew its findings and recommendations regarding “the rogue unit” and admitted making mistakes when working for Gupta-linked companies. EWN reported that the firm had lost a number of clients.

Business Leadership South Africa has suspended KPMG as a member organisation pending an outcome of an investigation.

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