McKinsey, SAP, KPMG Face Criminal Complaints From South African Regulator -- Update

Updates with comment from KPMG

JOHANNESBURG--South Africa's companies regulator said Wednesday that it has lodged criminal complaints against McKinsey & Co., SAP SE (SAP) and KPMG, the latest sign that local authorities are pursuing charges against Western companies amid rising political tensions.

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, or the CIPC, which enforces South African corporate law, said it made the complaints in November and December, but has been investigating the three companies since July.

The investigations began shortly after South African media started publishing leaked emails and other documents that suggested the Gupta family had used its friendship with President Jacob Zuma to gain overly lucrative state contracts--which at times involved working alongside big Western companies.

Mr. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

The legal section cited by the CIPC in its statement on the complaints prohibits companies from making reckless or grossly negligent business decisions or committing fraud.

McKinsey, KPMG and SAP all launched internal probes into their ties to the Gupta family earlier this year.

While McKinsey and KPMG said they found no criminal wrongdoing, SAP said it had reported itself to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Securities and Exchange Commission over 94 million South African rand ($7.6 million) in payments to companies with links to the Guptas.

SAP said Wednesday that it had contacted South African police in November and would "continue to work with all authorities regarding the investigation."

The CIPC said its complaint against McKinsey related to a 2016 contract with state power utility Eskom, on which the consultancy worked with a company then owned by a close associate of the Guptas.

In a statement Wednesday, McKinsey said it hadn't been formally provided with an affidavit relating to the CIPC complaint, but reiterated that it had done nothing wrong and remained ready to return the ZAR1 billion payment it received for the contract.

KPMG, which for years audited Gupta-owned companies, in September replaced its South African leadership team, citing the violation of some internal business standards, but said it found no criminal wrongdoing in work for the family.

The CIPC said its complaint against KPMG related to a report the company had prepared for South Africa's revenue service that suggested wrongdoing by the country's former finance minister, a prominent Gupta critic. The accounting firm in September retracted the relevant parts of the report and offered to repay the ZAR23 million fee it received.

A spokesman for KPMG said that the company believes there is no substance to the CIPC's complaint, but that it would cooperate with South Africa's police.

Write to Gabriele Steinhauser at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 17, 2018 09:45 ET (14:45 GMT)