Software giant SAP faces charges over Gupta-linked payments

(AFP)
(AFP)

Cape Town -  German software giant SAP said on Thursday that SA's Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has laid charges against it with the police in connection with Eskom and Transnet contracts it facilitated, with assistance from Gupta-linked companies as third parties. 

The company said in a telephonic press conference that a recently-concluded investigation by law firm Baker McKenzie had found irregularities in the management of these third-party transactions and adherence to internal company processes.

After signs emerged in January that the CIPC would charge the company, as well as KPMG and McKinsey, the companies regulator added contraventions to the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act to the charges. They related to SAP's alleged contravention of sections of the Companies Act of 2008, as well as sections of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004. 

Executive board member Adaire Fox-Martin told reporters the investigation confirmed there was no evidence of payments to any South African government official or employee of a state entity in connection with the Transnet and Eskom contracts for the sale of software to the state utilities.

“The central findings confirm that there were payments to Gupta-related entities, indications of misconduct relating to the management of Gupta-related third parties and irregularities in the adherence to SAP’s compliance processes,” said Fox-Martin.

While SAP would not name implicated officials from Gupta linked companies during Thursday's briefing, former Sahara Systems CEO Santosh Choubey and those reporting to him emerge in the investigation's findings as contacts in the SAP-McKinsey in the transactions. However, the investigation found no evidence of any direct contact with members of the Zuma or Gupta families.

Three executives in South Africa faced disciplinary proceedings in 2017, but were not disciplined as they resigned with no severance paid to them, Fox-Martin said.

Last year SAP voluntarily approached the United States Department of Justice as well as the United Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose the transactions.

Cooperating 

Fox-Martin told reporters that the company indicated to the Directorate for Priority Criminal Investigations (the Hawks) that it would cooperate with any action the Hawks take in connection with the matter, and that it would continue to engage with US authorities.

The company has not heard from the Hawks since proactively notifying them of its cooperation, she said.

“The actions of the US authorities could take years. We receive monthly updates from them on the process and they are starting to ask for documents and they have indicated that they would like to speak to people involved and there seem to be some delays,” Fox-Martin said.

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