Criminal charges opened against SAP in South Africa

South Africa's Companies and Intellectual Property Commission
(CIPC) has laid criminal charges against German software giant, SAP. The criminal charges opened with the South African Police Services (SAPS) are in relation to SAP's facilitation of deals with the Gupta family and State Owned Enterprises, Eskom and Transnet.

This was revealed during a telephonic press conference on 8 March 2018 where SAP also stated that the investigation conducted by Baker McKenzie, the law firm it appointed in 2017 to look into the allegations, had found irregularities in the management of these third-party transactions with South African State Owned Enterprises that SAP facilitated and that some senior staff failed to adhere to internal company processes.

In 2017, Baker McKenzie initially focused its investigation on SAP's contracts with Transnet and Eskom, and stated that, at the time, this part of its investigation will conclude by the end of 2017. Following a data analytics search of 8,4 million documents, the law firm completed a first-level review of 131,609 documents, and a second level review of 52,985 documents. Baker McKenzie also conducted numerous interviews.

Furthermore, amaBhungane has established that Lawrence Kandaswami, Managing Director at SAP South Africa, and Deena Pillay, Chief Financial Officer at SAP South Africa, resigned towards the end of 2017 while Brett Parker, Managing Director at SAP Africa, resigned in February 2018. All three senior employees were not named before by SAP, and the company still officially has not disclosed which three senior staff members have resigned since the Gupta linked bribery saga started.

Kandaswami's name first came to light in February 2017 when a whistleblower sent the South African Police Services’ (SAPS) National Head of Investigations, South Africa’s Special Investigations Unit and the country’s Hawks a letter requesting they “investigate corrupt activities in the national Department of Water and Sanitations.” When approached by iAfrikan in 2017, SAP flatly denied any bribery allegations, stating that "...this article, which is completely untrue, unjustified caused incredible stress within our team," said Kevin Wellman, Director at ByDesign Communications, speaking on behalf of SAP in South Africa in an e-mail to iAfrikan.

“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 Adaire Fox-Martin, Executive Director at SAP, during the telephone press conference.

What seems to have set the ball rolling more swiftly regarding the bribery and kickback allegations in South Africa against SAP seems to have a lot to do with the possible legal investigation that could come from the United States of America, where SAP is listed.

“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,” said Fox-Martin.

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