Saica refutes EFF's state capture allegations

Former auditor general and head of state capture investigating team Terrence Nombembe.
Former auditor general and head of state capture investigating team Terrence Nombembe.
Image: Trevor Samson/Business Day

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) has distanced itself from any form of state capture.

Its chairperson Fanisa Lamola said in a statement that she wanted to make it clear to South Africans that “Saica and its entities have never been party to any form of state capture or been consciously involved with those accused of any such dealings.”

Lamola’s statement followed a demand by the EFF that Saica CEO and former auditor-general Terence Nombembe be recused as leader of the state capture investigations team‚ as it believed he was conflicted.

EFF leader Julius Malema had said on Thursday that the EFF would write to Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo and ask him to remove Nombembe from the team. The EFF’s gripe with Nombembe arose out of a donation from the Gupta-linked Trillian Capital to Saica.

Saica had paid back the donation to Trillian‚ which was made in March 2017 as a contribution to its bursary fund for disadvantaged students.

Malema said in a media briefing that by the time Saica had received the donation‚ it was common cause and public knowledge that Trillian had received more than R500-million from Eskom.

Malema said the EFF had written to Nombembe to confirm and explain the donation‚ but Nombembe had merely responded via e-mail to arrange a phone conversation.

Malema also said in the briefing that Saica and Nombembe “were captured.”

Lamola said Saica had noted “with great concern‚ the accusations levelled at the Institute due to misinformation about a student funding donation that one of SAICA’s entities‚ the Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF) received from Trillian Capital (Pty) Ltd. Saica wishes to outline the actual facts around the Trillian donation to Saica.”

She said that the TBF funds historically disadvantaged students who are academically gifted but without the financial means to study towards becoming chartered accountants.

She said that in 2017‚ TBF received R57 million worth of donations‚ mainly from various public and private sector organisations‚ many of whom voluntarily approach Saica‚ as a result of awareness of the programme’s success.

“We would like to make everyone aware that the R1.272 million donation received by TBF from Trillian was unsolicited; which was not unusual as many of our TBF partners have become involved in TBF in this manner due to public awareness of the programme and its success. Trillian approached the TBF with an offer to contribute towards the funding of historically disadvantaged students‚ as do many of our donors who wish to contribute towards the higher education funding. As such‚ TBF did not request funding from Trillian‚” Lamola said.

She explained that the TBF board resolved to pay back the R1.2 million to Trillian‚ following an investigation done by advocate Geoff Budlender SC‚ who had compiled a report on the allegations against Trillian after he was commissioned to do so by Trillian chairman Tokyo Sexwale. The money was paid back in August 2017.

“Subsequent to these events‚ Saica and TBF enhanced their donor vetting process in order to avert any possible recurrence. This is in order to ensure that the important work which Saica and its entities do with regard to providing not only financial but academic and psycho-social support to historically disadvantaged students country-wide‚ is not compromised in any way‚” Lamola said.

X