February 27, 2018 / 6:42 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 2-South African regulator refers ex-KPMG employee to disciplinary hearing

(Adds comment from KPMG, details about the case)

CAPE TOWN, Feb 27 (Reuters) - South Africa's Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) has referred a former KPMG employee to a disciplinary hearing after investigating work carried out for Linkway Trading, a project management firm owned by friends of former President Jacob Zuma.

Linkway Trading was a part of the Gupta-owned Oakbay Group. The Gupta brothers have been accused of using their links with Zuma to secure lucrative tenders and influence cabinet appointments. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.

KPMG, which has previously said it was not involved in and did not condone any alleged money laundering activities linked to Linkway Trading, said it was aware of IRBA's latest decision.

"The disciplinary advisory committee resolved that the registered auditor must be referred to a disciplinary hearing," Bernard Agulhas, IRBA's chief executive, in response to questions from Reuters.

He said hearing preparations were underway and possible dates would be set in due course.

An IRBA spokeswoman said the auditor in question was a former KPMG employee, but did not name the employee.

"We are aware that the IRBA has resolved that a former employee, who is a registered auditor, will be referred to a disciplinary hearing," KPMG spokesman Nqubeko Sibiya said without giving further details.

Under South Africa's Auditing Professions Act, Agulhas said the former employee could face sanctions ranging from a light caution or reprimand to being struck from the register of auditors, which would be the severest punishment.

KPMG is one of several high-profile international companies facing questions about its work for the Indian-born Gupta brothers.

A number of companies, including the African arm of German insurer Munich Re and local ones such as Sasfin and Hulisani, said last year they would drop KPMG as their auditor. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf Editing by James Macharia and Edmund Blair)

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