You may have seen earlier this week that KPMG South Africa is planning to lay off 400 workers and close some regional offices, as the embattled firm tries to save face following the Gupta and VBS Mutual Bank scandals.
If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a nice synopsis of what’s going on, via Reuters:
The auditor’s South African unit has been under close scrutiny since 2017 over work done for a company owned by the Gupta family – who have been accused of using their links to former president Jacob Zuma to influence government decisions and the awarding of tenders – and more recently for failing to disclose loans from small lender VBS Mutual Bank.
The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.
As a result, more than a dozen of KPMG’s clients, including Barclays Africa and the government’s Auditor-General, have jumped ship.
One of the 400 employees who is being axed, or “retrenched,” sent a letter to BizNews.com that rips the firm for mismanagement “which in my view is due to the inconsistencies created by preaching one thing to the public (hoping that they will believe the lie) and doing another thing behind closed doors.”
In that letter, the ex-employee asks KPMG South Africa nine questions “which I am sure they will not answer.” The questions focus on KPMG South Africa’s role in the lavish Vega Gupta-Aakash Jahajgarhia wedding, leadership flaws, and the VBS debacle, among other things.
The letter concludes:
[T]he firm cannot survive if staff work in an environment where the leadership is not authentic, playing to the public and doing something else behind closed doors – the firm cannot turn around until there is true change and transparency ie. true leadership. what KPMG International do not realise is that SA is a unique place with specific nuances and culture – and in my mind they simply do not get it.
And hey, KPMG South Africa actually did respond to the letter, but in a way you would come to expect:
We recognise the impact on our people that the proposed retrenchment process has and would like to reinforce that we are working hard to carry out the reshaping of the business in a manner where people are treated with dignity.
We’ll see how this all plays out.