PICTURE: REUTERS

CAPE TOWN - KPMG SA's unit expects that 400 people will leave the company as it closes some regional offices and focuses its operations on four cities across the country.

KPMG has been embroiled in a trio of corruption scandals and has lost some of its biggest clients this year, including Barclays Africa Group Ltd. and South Africa’s Auditor-General. 

It’s being investigated by two auditing bodies in the country after its work for entities linked to the Gupta family was questioned. 

From having had about 3,400 staff a year ago, the auditing firm will now have about 130 partners and 2,200 employees, KPMG said in an emailed statement on Monday.

"These changes follow a strategic review of the firm’s activities and take into account recent client losses and current levels of demand for certain services. They are the latest in a series of initiatives announced by the firm in recent months to support its drive to restore KPMG’s strength in South Africa," KPMG said.

"We anticipate up to 400 people leaving the firm as a result of our plan to close certain regional offices, operate a refocused advisory business and scale back our internal business support to reflect our reduced footprint."

“The leadership changes will involve embedding in the firm for an extended period a number of senior KPMG partners from across the international network into board and executive positions, as well as senior client service roles.”

The Guptas are friends of former President Jacob Zuma and have been accused of influencing government appointments and the awarding of state contracts. 

Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing. 

Two months ago another scandal erupted when two partners resigned after they were faced with disciplinary charges related to work done for VBS Mutual Bank, which collapsed in March. 

Although KPMG responded by saying it would perform background checks on all staff every two years and set up a hotline so that any misconduct could be reported, it continued to lose clients.

KPMG will now operate from four regional hubs in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, the firm said, without specifying which offices would be closed.

Last year, KPMG South African appointed nine new executives in an attempt to restore trust in the auditing firm as clients distanced themselves over its involvement with the Gupta family and its apology for what it called an unreliable report on the country’s tax authority.

-BLOOMBERG, BUSINESS REPORT