KPMG headquarters FILE PHOTO

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) on Friday said an independent inquiry into the conduct of some chartered accountants formerly employed by embattled audit firm KPMG would begin soon.

In a statement SAICA chief executive, Terence Nombembe, said: "The independent inquiry will not be conducted by SAICA, but by an independent judge or senior counsel who will act as its chairman".

Nombembe said more elaborate details pertaining to the independent inquiry would be announced on 12 October 2017 by the chairman of the independent inquiry.

"I am reliably assured that the independent inquiry chairman is finalising the terms of reference including timelines, the methodology and the regulations that will guide the panel's processes," said the SAICA chief executve.  "Further, the chairman is finalising the composition of the independent inquiry panel. The chairman will announce the details of the Independent Inquiry in a week’s time."

KPMG South Africa was cast into the spotlight last month after it withdrew its report on the "rogue unit" at the South African Revenue Services (Sars) and said that its audits on the controversial Gupta family businesses account were "not up to KPMG standards".   The firm has been losing clients since it recalled the Sars "rogue unit" report and is being investigated by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA). At least eight partners at KPMG SA, including former chief executive Trevor Hoole.

SAICA is on record as saying it would not comment on speculation or summarily suspend individual members, but that it would only deal decisively with its members employed by KPMG who had allegedly acted unethically and conducted themselves improperly after due investigative and disciplinary processes by IRBA. The South African accountancy body then decided to launch an independent inquiry, saying that it affirmed its absolute commitment to maintain the integrity and ethical standards of the chartered accountancy profession in South Africa.

On Friday Nombembe said that the SAICA board had decided that, in order to maintain the independence of the inquiry, the funding of the entire inquiry will be provided by SAICA even though SAICA will have no involvement in the work of the panel.

"As the future announcements around this matter will be made by the chairman of the Independent Inquiry, SAICA will not make further comment in this regard," Nombembe said.

"The outcomes of the Independent Inquiry will inter alia feed into SAICA’s disciplinary processes to restore the public trust in the CA (SA) profession as a vital ingredient in re-establishing investor confidence in the capital markets as well as service delivery within the public sector in South Africa."