Executive Editor of Business Report.
Executive Editor of Business Report.

Speaking truth to power is sacrosanct

By Adri Senekal de Wet Time of article published Jul 20, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Business Report (BR) warned investors as far back as July 2017 about alleged corruption in a series of articles under #CorporateCorruptionReport: SA milked billions in corrupt deals. We published articles on corruption allegations at ABB - that I wrote about last week - to an estimated value of R1.5billion.

Others we exposed were EOH, which was involved in an alleged corrupt transaction of R300million. I was threatened by EOH bigwigs who wanted BR to remove the article or else. I refused and asked EOH to open their books, which they refused to do and the matter ended in a stalemate of sorts.

Another was SAP, which provides software systems to multinational corporations and governments that were involved in alleged corrupt transaction of R100m.

I wrote: “The terms suggest a thinly disguised kickback arrangement: If the Gupta company were the ‘effective cause’ of SAP landing a Transnet contract worth R100m or more, it would get 10percent. In the year to follow, SAP paid the company, CAD House, a whopping R99.9m, suggesting SAP used the Gupta-influenced network to drive sales of R1billion to Transnet and other state-owned entities (SOEs). SAP denies it paid kickbacks or was party to laundering the payments, arguing that CAD House had ‘the necessary skills in terms of positioning our solution’ and was paid a sales commission for acting as ‘an extension of the sales force’.”

Soon after this was published, SAP suspended its management staff in South Africa.

Another was Denel, an SOE that had been implicated in the Gupta scandal. I wrote: “According to the reports in January 2016, Denel announced the formation of Denel Asia, a Hong Kong-based joint venture that it controlled, holding 51percent. The rest belonged to a company registered to Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa. Defending themselves against criticism, Denel and the Guptas claimed that the Gupta family had no interest in the Essa company, VR Laser Asia, and by implication in Denel Asia. Recent reports indicated that they were misleading South Africans”. Connect the dots BR was right, again.

Then there was KPMG, a global network of independent member firms offering audit, tax and advisory services. Their member firms’ clients include business corporations, governments, public sector agencies and not-for-profit organisations. Another scandal that BR broke.

I wrote: “Lately the respected global auditing firm has not lived up to its standard if the recent reports are anything to go by. KPMG is no stranger to controversy. Its report was used to pursue Pravin Gordhan during his tenure as finance minister.” In March last year, a former KPMG partner was found guilty in a fraud case.

Then there was McKinsey, a worldwide management consulting firm that conducts qualitative and quantitative analyses to evaluate management decisions across the public and private sectors. This “trusted” consulting firm had also been embroiled in a scandal related to the Guptas.

BR revealed: “It (McKinsey) was hired by Eskom for several billion rand to improve efficiencies and cut wasteful expenditure. Instead, the deal McKinsey struck with Trillian Capital Partners mocked Eskom’s problems by handing at least R266m of Eskom’s money to a company that in the words of McKinsey’s own executives was merely there to receive 30percent of the contract ‘in return for not much work’.”

Days after we broke the story and other publications followed, advocate Geoff Budlender released his report into state capture allegations against Trillian, a company majority-owned by Gupta associate Salim Essa. The report details how McKinsey agreed to subcontract 30percent of their Eskom work to Trillian under the guise of “supplier development”, a programme intended to up-skill small, black-owned businesses.

BR, and myself as executive editor, will not be intimidated by corrupt officials, executives and whoever threatens to sue me, and Independent Media. We are, and will continue, to publish the truth.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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