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Empowerdex still has 3 months to get in line with B-BBEE laws, says regulator

Apr 15 2019 17:41
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

The South African National Accreditation System has said that it will give Empowerdex the opportunity to rectify transgressions that cost the company its Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment accreditation.

Empowerdex, a B-BBEE consulting and verification firm, had its certificate of accreditation suspended following allegations of bribery at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.  

Angelo Agrizzi – former Bosasa boss turned whistle-blower – testified in late March that Bosasa gave R40 000 to an employee of the verification company to "sort out the BEE ratings". 

At the time Empowerdex said it had no knowledge of a bribe being paid nor solicited. 

Sanas confirmed to Fin24 that the accreditation of Empowerdex was suspended due to failure to comply with some of the regulator's accreditation requirements.

"Once an accredited organisation is placed under suspension, they cannot conduct verifications under the banner of accreditation, which means that all verifications done during the period of suspension do not fall under the scope of accreditation," Sanas told Fin24 on Friday.

Sanas also told Fin24 that the suspension period was a precaution, as well as an opportunity for Empowerdex to rectify their standing. 

Additionally, it was a chance for Empowerdex to investigate the circumstances surrounding the suspension of their accreditation.

"Empowerdex was suspended and granted three months to resolve the issues that resulted in the suspension. Empowerdex acknowledged receipt of the suspension notification letter issued to them, and confirmed that they are working on addressing the concerns identified," the regulator said.

Fronting becoming 'more sophisticated'

A statement from the Department of Trade and Industry said Minister Rob Davies met the B-BBEE Council on Friday. The meeting was chaired by Davies on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"Acknowledging that fronting is becoming more sophisticated, aided by consultants and verification agencies in the market, [the] Advisory Council urged government to finalise the development of regulation for verification agencies and B-BBEE practitioners to complement the work of the B-BBEE Commission and Sanas," the statement said.

Empowerdex’s executive chair, Vuyo Jack, told Fin24 on Thursday that while Empowerdex was of the view that the matter could have been handled with more tact, it would cooperate with Sanas to clear its name.

Jack said Empowerdex has external investigators looking at the allegations stemming from the commission of inquiry. 

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