JOHANNESBURG, Sept 26 (Reuters) - South African firm Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo (SNG) said on Tuesday it has resigned as auditor to Oakbay Resources and Energy, the latest company to cut links with a firm whose owners face allegations of using ties with President Jacob Zuma to wield undue influence.
Oakbay Resources is owned by the Gupta family, which is accused by a public anti-corruption watchdog and senior members of the ruling African National Congress party of using friendship with Zuma to project influence and win business.
SNG said in statement the decision to resign as Oakbay auditors followed a thorough assessment of its relationship with the company that had spanned a period of 18 months.
“As is required by the Code of Professional Conduct, when SNG were approached to take over the audit of Oakbay, SNG made contact with the outgoing auditor in order to establish whether there were any professional reasons why it would not be appropriate to accept the engagement,” the company said.
“However, more recently following subsequent developments SNG have concluded to withdraw from the engagement.”
Oakbay’s spokesman was not immediately available for comment. The Gupta family and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.
Oakbay Resources appointed SNG, South Africa’s biggest black-owned auditing firm, as its auditor in 2016 after global accounting firm KPMG ditched the company.
KPMG’s work with Oakbay, which it said its own inquiry showed had fallen “considerably short” of its standards, cost it at least three clients and several large companies are reviewing whether to continue using the Dutch-based auditing firm.
Oakbay last week lost a court bid to stop Bank of Baroda from closing its accounts, allowing the lender to join several other firms that have distanced themselves from businesses controlled by the Gupta family.
The Gupta brothers - Ajay, Atul and Rajesh - moved to South Africa from India at the end of apartheid in the early 1990s and built a business empire spanning technology, media and mining. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; editing by Mark Heinrich)