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Gigaba fires airline's board, auditors

Aug 14 2012 08:40 Sapa

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Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba has axed the board of the state-owned airliner SA Express, according to reports on Tuesday.

There had been a "severe breakdown" in the relationship between the minister and the board because of a dispute about accounting systems, Gigaba's spokesperson Mayihlone Tshwete told SABC radio news.

"For two years we didn't get financial statements from the company," Tshwete told the broadcaster.

Business Day reported that the airline had failed to present its 2011/2012 financial statements to Gigaba at its annual general meeting on Monday.

According to Beeld, there had been allegations of irregularities, including a R32m VAT payment allegedly mistakenly made to the SA Revenue Service.

Assets had also allegedly been managed outside the guidelines of acceptable accounting practice, the newspaper reported.

However, Lillian Boyle, who chaired an inquiry by the board, told the parliamentary portfolio committee earlier this year the irregularities were "accounting errors that can be attributed to the bookkeeper's incompetence and inexperience".

She said the mistakes had been perpetuated for a number of years, and that they had been continuously rolled over.

On Monday, Boyle was replaced by Andile Mabizela, a well-known businessman with experience in the airline industry.

Gigaba also replaced the auditors, Nkonki, and said the new board should urgently resolve any outstanding issues concerning the annual report.

Nkonki partner Steven Firer told Business Day the firm was relieved that it would no longer be involved in auditing the carrier.

"We are pretty happy about that because of the high engagement risk.... There are just too many things that can go wrong. We can't put our firm in that position again," he said.


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