Why did SAP go to US authorities first, asks deputy finance minister

27 October 2017 - 12:38 By Bianca Capazorio
Sfiso Buthelezi.
Sfiso Buthelezi.

Deputy finance minister Sfiso Buthelezi has questioned why global software giant SAP approached American authorities‚ rather than confessing their wrongdoing to local authorities.

“SAP has decided to come clean‚ but when it comes clean‚ it goes to America to do that‚” Buthelezi said during a speech delivered in Cape Town on Friday. SAP officials apologised this week after an internal probe revealed that kickbacks had been paid to Gupta-linked companies to secure lucrative contracts from Transnet and Eskom.

SAP said it had approached American law enforcement authorities with the evidence.

“Its wrongdoing was done here. I don't know what it did here‚ but it's in America‚ saying there are wrongdoings that we have done‚” Buthelezi said in a keynote address at the Harith Business Day African Infrastructure Dialogue.

“I'm still waiting to see what happens‚ whether they are still going to come to our enforcement agencies and confess‚” he said.

“I am Roman Catholic‚ so you do need to go to the priest and confess‚” he joked.

Buthelezi said the problems the country was currently experiencing with auditing firm KPMG resulted from a lack of diversity in professional areas like asset management and auditing.

“The amount that the private sector has placed with asset managers who are black‚ young or women is negligible and this needs to be challenged‚” he said.

“The current problems of KPMG bear testament to the problems of concentration and the country's dependence on a few entities.”

Buthelezi said government was prioritising infrastructure spending in a bid to improve economic growth.

He said when corruption happens “a child somewhere is robbed of the basic necessities”.

Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe‚ who also spoke at the event said “systemic corruption diverts the bulk of the resources that are meant for infrastructure development and support from poor communities into private pockets while contributing to an overwhelming wealth gap”.

Motlanthe quoted research undertaken on the assumption that corruption added 10% to the cost of infrastructure projects. At that level‚ corruption would cost the economy R27 billion per year and rob the country of 76 000 jobs.

Motlanthe said state entities should have high governance standards in order to draw investment.

“Capital generally gravitates to where rules are predictable and upheld. Without trust in the rule of law underscoring these relationships‚ both local and foreign investors cannot be expected to invest in atmospheres of economic and political uncertainty‚” he said.