Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2003-09-06 Reporter: Own Correspondent

'Auditor-General's Job On The Line'



The Natal Witness

Date 2003-09-06


Own Correspondent

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Arms deal probe 'was superficial'

The document is an internal communication from PricewaterhouseCoopers Forensics to the office of the Auditor-General. It is dated August 2001 and titled "Private and Confidential Strategic Defence Packages Report to the Auditor General".

The progress report was written a little over a month before the completed draft report was handed to President Thabo Mbeki in October last year.

The arms deal investigation was carried out by three agencies the Public Protector, the Scorpions and the Auditor- General - who outsourced his work to PwC Forensics.

It is from PwC Forensics that the latest blow to the A-G has come. Their progress report, which they intended to be kept confidential, was released by the courts to former Pietermaritzburg businessman Dr Richard Young in terms of his Promotion of Access to Information Act application.

The document has led the former chairman of Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Dr Gavin Woods, to say he is "shocked and disappointed" with its contents.

Woods said his party is "very seriously considering" proposing a substantive motion to have the Auditor-General dismissed from his current position.

Woods said what irks him the most is that in the arms deal report given to Parliament no mention is made of just how superficial the investigation was - the report was in fact an unqualified audit, meaning the investigators did not qualify their findings by pointing out any shortcomings in the investigation.

As a result he believed the A-G may well have misled Parliament and the citizens of the country into believing the investigation was a thorough one.

Woods pointed out it was "impossible" for the investigators to have rectified the shortcomings identified in the progress report before the final draft was handed to Mbeki in October.

Young said he would be including the "progress report" in his complaint about PwC to the Public Accountants and Auditors Board, the body that regulates accountants and auditors.

PwC have acted as advisers and auditors to an extensive list of arms dealers, some of whom are involved in SA's arms acquisition process.

Young said he will ask the PAAB to investigate why the PwC auditors did not reveal to the public that the report was "extremely limited" and should have been issued as a qualified report.

He also believes that the "progress report" is a clear indication that the investigators did not complete their mandate - to investigate his complaints.

Jan Swanepoel, a director of PwC Forensic Services was approached for comment and informed of Young's complaint to the PAAB, but declined to comment.

He said that neither he nor his investigators could divulge any information relating to the probe without the consent of the Auditor-General.

Attempts to obtain comment from Fakie by fax and e-mail failed.

With acknowledgement to The Natal Witness.