July 17, 2017 / 1:17 PM / 2 years ago

South African opposition party to file criminal complaint against SAP

JOHANNESBURG, July 17 (Reuters) - South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday it would file a criminal complaint against German software giant SAP over allegations of corruption involving friends of President Jacob Zuma.

SAP, Europe’s top technology company, last week put four senior managers in South Africa on leave and opened an investigation into reports that dragged the company into an escalating influence-peddling scandal.

South African media reported last week that SAP paid kickbacks to CAD House, a firm partly owned by the politically connected Gupta family and Zuma’s son Duduzane. The payments allegedly helped SAP clinch a deal worth 1 billion rand ($76 million) with rail and logistics company Transnet.

CAD House sells 3-D printers and has no software experience that would make it a logical go-between for SAP and Transnet.

“The DA has reason to believe that SAP South Africa procured the services of CAD House purely because they wanted access to its owners, Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas,” the DA said in a statement.

“The DA will, therefore, proceed to lay charges of corruption and money laundering against (SAP South Africa and CAD House).”

Reuters has not been able to independently verify the allegations.

A Gupta spokesman, CAD House, SAP and a spokesman for Zuma did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Guptas, Indian-born South Africans, and Zuma have previously denied wrongdoing.

SAP has hired an independent international law firm based in the United States to conduct an external investigation and also will run its own, internal inquiry.

“We’ve obviously seen the claims in the media. And we’re taking these extremely, very, very seriously.” Adaire Fox-Martin, SAP co-president for global customer operations, told Reuters in an interview on July 12.

Members of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress have called for Zuma to step down over allegations the Gupta family influences government contracts and cabinet positions.

In 2015, then-deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said the Gupta family had offered him 600 million rand ($46.38 million) to secure the job of finance minister. The Guptas denied making any offer to Jonas.

In June, more than 100,000 documents and emails purported to be from inside the Gupta commercial empire were leaked to four South African media organizations. The Gupta family has not questioned the authenticity of the documents.

Also on Monday, the news outlet Daily Maverick reported the Swiss heavy-equipment company Liebherr had made payments to politically connected individuals in South Africa as it sought contracts to supply cranes to the nation’s ports.

Liebherr said on Monday it was investigating the allegations.

$1 = 12.9367 rand Reporting by Joe Brock; Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Larry King

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