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State Capture: 'KPMG, Deloitte, EY, PwC function as a state-sanctioned cartel'

17 September 2020 9:54 AM
Tags:
Jacob Zuma
State Capture
Corruption
VBS Mutual Bank
KPMG
Deloitte
PricewaterhouseCoopers
PWC
Refilwe Moloto
Open Secrets
Estina
auditing
Ernst & Young
ey
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
auditing profession
Michael Marchant

"These firms have become so wealthy and powerful," says Michael Marchant (Open Secrets). "Will they ever be held to account?"

“State Capture” is a term conveniently bandied about when referring to the Zuma era.

It is, however, far more than that, and it’s unlikely that there’s ever been a time in South Africa where parts of the state haven’t been captured.

Refilwe Moloto interviewed Michael Marchant, a researcher at the Open Secrets Project working to uncover the truth.

Open Secrets is a non-profit organisation which exposes and builds accountability for private-sector economic crimes through investigative research, advocacy and the law.

It has published in-depth reports on the role various organisations – including those in the private sector - have played in dismantling good governance.

Accounting firm KPMG, for example, has become synonymous with State Capture, but it is not the only company doing dodgy deals.

This type of grand corruption has cost us upward of R1 trillion – with unquantifiable societal damage that is still unfolding.

Corruption does not exist in a vacuum.

It takes two to tango - the private sector has been there every step of the way.

Many of your listeners know about KPMG’s complicity in the destruction of Sars. The range of auditing and consulting work they did for Gupta-linked firms, particularly assisting in the laundering of money from the Estina project. The senior external auditor at VBS Bank when it was being looted was from KPMG – he was being paid to look the other way.

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

As much as KPMG has been front and centre in our headlines, really what we see is that they’re indicative of an industry that is complicit in these types of crimes around the world… Deloitte’s failure to spot fraud and corruption at Steinhoff, Tongaat Hulett and others.

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

These firms [the Big Four auditing firms Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC] have become so wealthy and powerful that they’ve become indispensable to our economy… yet the quality of their work is often suspect and they’re continuously implicated…

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

Will they ever be held to account? … They almost function as a state-sanctioned cartel…

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

We need to force them to completely separate their consulting and their auditing work… We increasingly see auditors unwilling to do the vigorous, independent checks because they don’t want to scare away clients for consulting, which is much more lucrative…

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

We need to bring these actors into the spotlight by law enforcement much more forcefully…

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

In South Africa, with some corporations, we’re talking about more than 100 years of an auditing relationship. It’s patently ridiculous to assume an independent relationship can survive for that long!

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

The regulator needs powers of search and seizure...

Michael Marchant, researcher - Open Secrets

Listen to the interview in the audio below.


17 September 2020 9:54 AM
Tags:
Jacob Zuma
State Capture
Corruption
VBS Mutual Bank
KPMG
Deloitte
PricewaterhouseCoopers
PWC
Refilwe Moloto
Open Secrets
Estina
auditing
Ernst & Young
ey
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
auditing profession
Michael Marchant

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