(Adds KPMG comment)
By Patricia Aruo
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 29 (Reuters) - South African lender Nedbank said on Monday it would appoint Ernst & Young as joint external auditors in May 2019, becoming the latest firm to drop the scandal-hit KPMG’s local unit.
The auditor’s South African unit has been under close scrutiny since 2017 over work done for a company owned by the Gupta brothers - who have been accused of using their links to former president Jacob Zuma to influence government decisions and the awarding of tenders - and more recently for small lender VBS Mutual Bank. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.
KPMG sacked its South African leadership in September last year after it found work done for the firm owned by the Guptas “fell considerably short” of its standards.
KPMG said in a statement that Nedbank’s decision was part of efforts to introduce mandatory audit firm rotation.
“It is always disappointing to lose a client but we remain very proud of the work that we have performed for Nedbank over many years,” the firm’s executive chairman Wiseman Nkhulu said.
More than 10 clients across various sectors have severed ties with KPMG since last year, including South Africa’s auditor general, Barclays Africa and miner Sibanye Stillwater .
In June, KPMG said it would lay off 400 staff and close small regional offices in response to losing the clients.
A central bank investigation published this month said South Africa should seek damages from global auditor KPMG for the role it played in a corruption scandal that saw at least 1.9 billion rand($131 million) stolen from local bank VBS. ($1 = 14.5098 rand) (Editing by James Macharia and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)