Sat, 30 May 2020

While the world is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, Deloitte has been making major changes to senior management.

Last month, Deloitte agreed to pay back R150-million to Eskom to settle a case involving a contested consulting contract. (You can read amaBhungane's in-depth reporting which appears to have contributed to that settlement here and here.)

It has since emerged that Thiru Pillay, the managing director for Deloitte Africa's advisory arm, resigned in the wake of the scandal.

Also out is Shamal Sivasanker, Deloitte Africa's leader on infrastructure and power and the lead consultant on the Eskom contract.

Both directors left the firm at the end of March, but Deloitte did not announce their departures until yesterday when, in response to detailed questions from amaBhungane, a spokesperson for Deloitte sent a short statement:

"Following the resolution of the Eskom matter, Deloitte confirms that the directors have acknowledged that the events related to the Eskom matter occurred on their watch. They have taken leadership accountability and have withdrawn from the Firm effective 31 March 2020.

"Taking accountability is in line with our Firm's values. Investigations completed by Eskom and Deloitte showed no evidence of state capture or corruption (see attached joint statement)."

Deloitte has repeatedly stressed this last part. amaBhungane understands that Deloitte would only settle if Eskom agreed to make this concession.

This does not mean that Deloitte's conduct at Eskom, such as its decision to partner with a Gupta-linked firm, cannot be investigated by the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit or the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture. But for now, it has given Deloitte, one of the world's Big Four accounting firms, room to breathe.

When amaBhungane interviewed Pillay in December, he was adamant that the firm would not settle with Eskom. At the time, his team stressed that it had "bypassed global" when deciding to grant the interview.

Neither Pillay nor Sivasanker responded to our requests for comment sent via WhatsApp on Tuesday afternoon.

Pillay is one of Deloitte's best-known executives. Last year, he was named "Big 4 professional of the year" by the South African Professional Services Awards.

His LinkedIn profile describes his new role as "independent ... impact maker".

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