Former NSSA Chair Vela re-launches his lawsuit against audit firm BDO-Zimbabwe.

By Tafadzwa Mupfururirwa.

Former National Social Security Authority chair, Robin Vela has renewed his fight against BDO-Zimbabwe and its parent company based in Belgium, for defamation after the High Court in June ruled that the firm had done an incomplete job on the state run pension fund forensic audit.

Vela is suing BDO International for defamation in the UK courts after it declined to disassociate itself from its Zimbabwean affiliate, BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants.

The local entity was found to have authored a forensic audit report littered with irregularities and fell far short of global auditing standards.

“BDO International has a duty to ensure that their affiliates behave as they would; in a manner which is consistent with global auditing and accounting standards and is professional, credible and impartial. They cannot fob off their obligations by abrogating responsibility to local affiliates when things go wrong but talk about a ‘global network/ one firm’ when soliciting for engagement mandates,” he stated.

The High Court ruled that BDO had done a shoddy Job and Vela took their audit report for review with South Africa’s based Nexus Forensic Services.

Vela had approached Nexus for an analysis of the BDO Report as part of his mission to get BDO to ensure its affiliates adhere to the stringent global standards when carrying out work across the world.

 “If it wasn’t a BDO badged report, people would – as the Zimbabwe High Court and Nexus have done – dismiss it as not being worth the paper it was written on. But because it contains the stamp of BDO, this implies that BDO International processes, standards and qualified personnel were engaged and applied. This could not be further from reality in my case,” Vela stated.

Vela is demanding that BDO disassociate itself from the report authored by BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants and also commit to ensuring that all its affiliates adhere to the same ethical and professional standards.

According to the review report by Nexus, it was found that, BDO’s investigation did not appear to have been conducted with an open and enquiring mind

“The skill set to address technical issues that formed part of the scope of works, lacked. Contradicting evidence was not investigated and resolved (i.e. including Vela’s assertions). The level of certainty as a basis for a conclusion (prima facie as reflected below) lacked (a rational link between the evidence and a finding / conclusion is not apparent on identified issues),”read part of the report.

The SA based audit firm, also questioned the competency of Gilbert Gwatiringa, who signed off the report on behalf of BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants, saying his company profile suggested he was studying towards but did not have a forensic audit or investigation qualification or specialist expertise in forensic audit.

In a damning judgment issued in June High Court Judge Justice Webster Chinamora ruled BDO’s report was biased, inaccurate, untrue and incompetent.

BDO Zimbabwe and the Auditor General of Zimbabwe have appealed the Chinamora judgment on the technicality that their report was not subject to review. The matter is yet to be heard by the Supreme Court.

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