Picture: Reuters/Mike Hutchings
JOHANNESBURG - Gold Fields yesterday joined a growing list of South African companies that have cut ties with beleaguered auditing firm KPMG after the miner’s board decided to look for new auditors.

Gold Fields said yesterday that its annual general meeting on Tuesday directed the company to look for a new company to audit its books.

KPMG has been the auditor of Gold Fields, one of the world’s largest gold-mining firms, for eight years.

“Gold Fields is not changing auditors, but putting the external audit out to tender, since we are approaching the end of the 10-year audit term. KPMG was responsible for Gold Fields’ external audit as well as some tax services. As is common practice, their appointment was subject to approval by shareholders at the (annual general meeting) every year,” Gold Fields spokesperson Sven Lunsche said yesterday.

Several companies have severed ties with KPMG since reports emerged last year of its work for the politically connected Gupta family and the SA Revenue Service. Among the high-profile clients who have dumped KPMG are financial services firm Sasfin, Barclays Africa, clothing retail group Foschini, Wits University, Interwaste Holdings and Telkom.

This week Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene announced steps taken to clean the image of the auditing profession. Nene told Parliament on Tuesday that the recent instances of collusion with audited companies as well as general lapses had cast a bad light on the profession. “The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors is working with the office of the Accountant-General, housed within the National Treasury, to amend the Audit Professions Act 26 of 2005 to restore the credibility of and public trust in the audit profession,” he said.

The amendments included stronger sanctions, strengthening the regulatory board’s powers in its investigations process and reducing the complexity of disciplinary hearings to ensure a swift, fair and due process. Last year Gold Fields said KPMG would remain its external auditor, but added that it would continue to monitor future developments.

Yesterday the company said a new auditor would review its financials going forward.

“The board has taken a decision to put Gold Fields Group’s audit work from the 2018 financial year onwards out for tender,” the company said.

Gold Fields shares declined 2.45percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R44.24.