SAP instigates investigation into South African business; appoints interim MD

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SAP Executive Board Member Adaire Fox-Martin will oversee an independent investigation into allegations that SAP South Africa paid kickbacks to a firm connected to the Gupta family, in relation to a new contract between the vendor and Transnet.

Multinational law firm Baker McKenzie will lead the external investigation, alongside global experts such as forensic firm FTI Consulting.

The current management team has been placed on administrative leave pending the findings of the review.

In a statement, SAP said “the company’s business policy is to carry out all company activities in accordance with the letter and spirit of applicable legal requirements and therefore maintain the highest standards of business ethics”.

“SAP stands for integrity, transparency and compliance,” said Fox-Martin, who leads SAP’s business in EMEA and Greater China. “We strive to be exemplary in the manner in which we serve our customers and partners, and in how we treat our employees. Full transparency and integrity are imperative at our company, and we will not tolerate any misconduct.”

Fox-Martin travelled to South Africa last week to address concerns of customers, partners and employees.

Class Kuehnemann has also been appointed acting managing director for Africa while the investigation is conducted, with the “full backing and trust of the SAP Executive Board”, according to Fox-Martin.

With more than two decades with SAP, Kuehnemann has held various executive roles at SAP, including senior vice president of Professional Services, overseeing SAP’s consulting business in EMEA based in Paris, managing director Africa, based in Johannesburg as well as managing director for the South-East Europe & Middle East region, based out of Dubai.

“The SAP Africa management team will continue to deliver on its promise to help African business run optimally,” said Kuehnemann. “My interim role is to support our employees, customers and partners across all our business sectors while the due diligence process is conducted.”

Peter David, regional chief financial officer, SAP EMEA, will support Kuehnemann as acting CFO of SAP Africa.

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