JOHANNESBURG – The South African arm of global audit firm KPMG said on Wednesday it had appointed veteran public servant and former chairman of the Development Bank of Southern Africa Wiseman Nkuhlu as its chairman.
He is the country’s first black chartered accountant and has the unenviable task of restoring credibility to the embattled audit firm.
Nkuhlu, currently chancellor of the University of Pretoria, has over 30 years’ experience in both the public and private sectors.
He has served as a board director and as part of the audit committee at a wide range of leading public listed companies. Nkuhlu was also an economic advisor to former president Thabo Mbeki.
KPMG also appointed Ansie Ramalho as an independent director, saying she and Nkuhlu would assume their roles on 1 March.
KPMG sacked its South African leadership in September after it found work done for companies owned by the Gupta family, accused by a public watchdog of improperly influencing government contracts, “fell considerably short” of its standards.
The appointment comes after Ahmed Jaffer resigned from the firm and stepped down as chairperson during the mass exodus of KPMG partners after the company withdrew reports it had compiled on behalf of the controversial family.
In all, eight partners stepped down, including Trevor Hoole as chief executive officer and Steven Louw as chief operating officer.
KPMG South Africa chief executive Nhlamu Dlomu said the appointments would bring a huge amount of relevant experience, wisdom and challenge as the firm makes the critical decisions required to rebuild.
“Prof Nkuhlu, as the first black chartered accountant in the country, has dedicated his life and his career to the role of the profession in supporting South Africa’s economic progress and transformation agenda,” the CEO said.
The influential Indian family, seen as close to President Jacob Zuma, have consistently denied charges of any wrongdoing.
Auditors and the audit firm even instituted an independent inquiry of its own, into the allegations.
Several other global firms have faced problems due to their work for the Gupta brothers, including business consultancy firm McKinsey and public relations agency Bell Pottinger.
The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors last week said one of the lines of investigation into KPMG was nearing completion.