Following a series of over 20 tweets from Twitter parody account @AdvoBarryRoux accusing the company of corruption, maladministration, fraud and ill-treatment of their staff, Proudly SA has decided to hit back at the allegations by filing a lawsuit.
According to a statement issued by the company, “a small group of disgruntled now-former employees threatened to derail the excellent work that Proudly SA does”.
One of the ways in which said employees tried to do this is through a report that was submitted anonymously to the Deloitte Tip-Off Line in October 2019. According to Proudly SA, the report contained accusations of maladministration, fraud and irregular financial procedures and these same accusations were made by the @AdvoBarryRoux account last month.
Proudly SA issued a statement categorically denying the allegations on the same day.
— Proudly South African (@ProudlySA) January 26, 2020
“On 26 January 2020, a series of false accusations was made against Proudly SA on the spoof Twitter account @AdvoBarryRoux. The posts named members of our executive as well as some of our suppliers, partners and service providers,” read part of another Proudly SA statement issued on Thursday to announce their choice to take legal action.
Proudly SA’s Deryn Graham told the Citizen that the staff member who made the report later admitted to doing so.
Graham went on to explain that the external report contains too much sensitive information and was therefore not made publically available as a lot would have to be redacted from the report before doing so. However, Proudly SA had noted that a lot of the claims made by the parody account were too similar to those contained within the aforementioned Deloitte report.
“An internal investigation, which has now been concluded, exonerated all those implicated and, in fact, found the submission to constitute malicious reporting.
“A further external inquiry, which we commissioned and which included a full forensic investigation, also found the accusations to be without any foundation, clearing each member of the executive and management of any wrongdoing whatsoever.”
Proudly SA also went on to allege that their investigations had uncovered that one of the staff members in question had themselves falsified documents in order to implicate others and to justify the claims made in the anonymous report.
“All three of the aforementioned employees have now been dismissed by Proudly South African. As a result of the public, defamatory claims that were made in the public domain, making false accusations and using names in the process, three of our executives are considering pursuing civil suits against these individuals and the organisation has taken legal advice regarding opening charges of fraud and/or forgery.”
The organisation added that it had been directed by its board to strengthen the controls within their financial management system to ensure that good governance was maintained as per the 12 consecutive clean audits they claimed to have received over the years.
“The actions of the three employees failed to achieve their goals of casting doubt on the campaign and its integrity and of bringing the organisation into disrepute. We have continued with ‘business as usual’ and we will be putting the focus over the next fiscal year on consumer education, over and above our work to promote local procurement in all sectors.”