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Slow disciplinary process hampers Saica’s case against accountant Khaya Sithole

Nov 26 2018 16:06
Tehillah Niselow

Accountant and commentator Khaya Sithole has complained about the slow disciplinary process by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) which could extend until 2019, with no finalisation of the case.

Sithole's case kicked off in June. He faces charges of acting against the professional ethics of the accounting industry, by irregularly adding 129 students to Saica's scholarship scheme, the Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF) between 2014 and 2016, while programme manager at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The matter was postponed to August and then delayed until November 23 for a three-day sitting. It has once again been extended to a date yet to be determined.

The accounting industry has faced criticism from former finance minister Trevor Manuel for failing to finalise cases against more high-profile chartered accountants, such as ex-KPMG employees involved in the auditing of Gupta-linked companies and former Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh.

"The case is a classic exhibit of Saica's profound inability to run any of its processes with any semblance of competence.

"Firstly, they amended their Constitution to launch a public case when there was no case to begin with," Sithole complained.

'Unusual hearing'

But legal counsel for the institute, Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti, denied the hearings were "slow" and blamed Sithole for several of the delays, including filing large documents at the last minute.

"It's not a general principle that Saica hearings, once they've commenced, take a long time to finish. This is quite an unusual hearing in terms of the amount of time it's taken," Ampofo-Anti said.

Disciplinary committee chair advocate Shanee Stein declined to comment on the proceedings.

Saica's legal team has concluded re-examining its first and only witness, TBF's project director Nthato Selebi, who testified in June that Sithole awarded Wits accountancy student bursaries while using a document with his forged signature, which cost Saica R10m that was not budgeted for.

Sithole's legal team will still need to bring their own evidence.

Both counsel will compile their heads of argument before closing arguments can be heard, and the disciplinary committee can make a decision. It's not yet clear what sanction the institute will ask for. The maximum penalty is a R500 000 fine or being struck off the CA (SA) roll.

Sithole's affidavit blames Wits University's financial aid office and the head of the school of accountancy, Prof Nirupa Padia, for repeatedly imposing students on the Thuthuka programme.

Meanwhile, the disciplinary hearing into former VBS and Vele Investments chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, and former VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga, was postponed on November 9, as the committee felt not enough had been done by Saica to contact the pair and inform them of the charges they faced.

The case will be heard on December 6, and they both face being struck off the roll of accountants, after they were provisionally sequestrated by the South Gauteng High Court in July and August respectively.

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saica  |  khaya sithole  |  accounting  |  auditing
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