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SAP forensics team gets cracking on Gupta allegations

Jul 13 2017 16:43
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Software giant SAP has appointed an international law firm to undertake a holistic investigation of allegations of non-compliance at its operations in South Africa, Adaire Fox-Martin, SAP executive board member for global customer operations, told the media on Thursday afternoon.

The law firm has, however, requested that its name not be revealed.

This comes after the company announced earlier that four employees in SA have been placed on "administrative leave" pending the outcome of an investigation into the allegation.

Fin24 has reported earlier that SAP has suspended its SA management team after a #GuptaLeaks exposé by AmaBhungane and Scorpio revealed it allegedly paid a Gupta front R100m in "kickbacks" for state business.

Fox-Martin repeatedly said that SAP has "zero tolerance" for non-compliance.

"Our forensics team is already on the ground and have begun the review. We have access also to PCs of the employees currently on administrative leave. We have access to the data in the SAP system and are working to recover what we can gain from that as effectively as possible," she said.

"We as the executive board of SAP feel we owe it to our partners and the broader community in SA and Africa.

"We have seen the claims made in the media and we are taking it very, very seriously. We are initiating a fair and vigorous investigation conducted with full integrity and transparency - both internally with our own forensics team and externally," said Fox-Martin.

She added that the names of the four SAP SA members who were put on " administrative leave" will not be revealed at this stage and that they are presumed innocent until it is proven otherwise.

Fin24 did, however, earlier report those suspended likely include Brett Parker (MD Africa), Lawrence Kandaswami (MD South Africa), Deena Pillay (CFO South Africa) and Mehmood Khan (COO Africa).

"We have a long value chain in this sector and a long chain of suppliers. It is our intention that, once the investigation has been concluded, we will share the results publicly," said Fox-Martin.

She added that the name of an interim CEO for SAP SA will likely be announced on Friday. Members of the company's German operations will also be deployed in the SA operations in the meantime.

Fox-Martin said she cannot say at this stage who approached whom in the alleged "kickback" process. This will have to be determined as part of the investigation. She emphasised repeatedly, however, that SAP continues to reject the allegations, yet will have zero tolerance if non-compliance were to be found.

When asked whether SAP is under investigation by US authorities for non-compliance, Fox-Martin said at this stage the company is not aware of any such investigation.

"There is a due diligence process applied to everything in which SAP participates. We will do a thorough review of our entire business in SA as part of the process. I will also spend time with our SA employees to make sure they are clear on how our process works. The feedback I have received from our employees so far is that they are positive about the stance of the SAP executive board," said Fox-Martin.

"We are taking it very seriously. We are in 180 countries accross the world. We are constantly reviewing our compliance processes. We are not 100% perfect, human beings are human beings, and if as a result of this investigation we find we need to improve, we will add those safeguards to our processes."

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