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KPMG South Africa apologizes for scandals, seeks second chance

KPMG LLP, the auditor that shed clients and staff after scandals in South Africa, apologizes for its “misdeeds” and wants a second chance to reestablish its business in the country, Chairman Wiseman Nkuhlu said.

The firm, one of the so-called big four global auditing companies, confessed to publishing a misleading report on the South African Revenue Service that led to a police probe of a former finance minister, did work for the Gupta family who have been implicated in corruption scandals linked to former president Jacob Zuma, and acted as an auditor for a bank that collapsed due to alleged fraud.

Its eight top staff resigned in September 2017, some of the biggest companies in South Africa have replaced it as their auditors and in June it said its workforce had shrunk to 2,200 from 3,400.

“KPMG had made a lot of serious mistakes and lost the trust of the public and clients,” Nkuhlu said in an advertisement placed in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper. “We had lost sight of our responsibility to serve the broader public interest.”

The company is one of a number of international firms that have apologized for their conduct during the nine-year rule of Zuma, which ended in February, during which time corruption at state companies became endemic.

Bain & Co. has started an independent probe into its own work for South Africa’s tax service, while McKinsey & Co. and SAP SE have accepted responsibility for improper work done for state-owned companies.

“We know we made mistakes and we will accept responsibility, as appropriate, for our misdeeds,” Nkuhlu said. “In return, I would like to make an appeal to South Africa business, government and the public. An appeal for your recognition that KPMG South Africa is today a very different business to what it was 18 months ago.”

The company, which has lost clients including Barclays Africa Group Ltd.and Dimension Data Plc, is seeking to win back trust, he said.

We “appeal for your permission, for KPMG South Africa and the thousands of South Africans who work for it, to continue to play a positive role in the business community and the life of the nation,” he said.

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