Software giant SAP has suspended four senior managers in South Africa after leaked Gupta emails show the company allegedly paid a Gupta front R100m in kickbacks for state business, according to reports.
SAP has initiated an independent external investigation as well as an internal probe into the matter.
An investigation by amaBhungane and Scorpio of the leaked Gupta emails showed that in order to clinch Transnet business, SAP agreed to pay 10 percent "sales commission" to a company controlled by the Guptas.
If the Gupta company was the "effective cause" of SAP landing a Transnet contract worth R100-million or more, it would get 10%.
They reported that in August 2015, SAP signed a "sales commission agreement" with a small Gupta-controlled company, CAD House, that specialises in selling 3D printers.
The terms suggested a thinly disguised kickback arrangement: If the Gupta company was the "effective cause" of SAP landing a Transnet contract worth R100 million or more, it would get 10 percent.
"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.
Fox-Martin said SAP was putting the executives on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the two probes.
The German company has hired an independent international law firm based in the United States to conduct an external investigation and also will run its own, internal probe using SAP's compliance organisation, she said.
"We've obviously seen the claims in the media. And we're taking these extremely, very, very seriously,"
SAP declined to name the four management-level employees, or their job titles, however Fin24 reported that the team included two managing directors, a CFO and COO.
"SAP has initiated an independent investigation spearheaded by a multinational law firm and overseen by executive board member Adaire Fox-Martin to vigorously review contracts awarded by SAP South Africa," the firm said.
SAP had originally denied claims of any kickbacks being paid to the Guptas.
In a statement, SAP said: "SAP is dedicated to conducting every aspect of our business responsibly and in accordance with the highest global compliance and legal standards."
Read the sales agreement here.