Original publish date – Fri, 29 Oct 2010 10:47:15 +0000, Keith

Fronting is defined as misrepresenting your BEE score. There is another method that people are using to front. In many cases people think that if they give a scorecard that on the face of it is correct, it will not be fronting.

Companies with holding companies are now beginning to use the scorecard from the holding company as their certificate. On the face of it this seems ok. The codes allow a consolidation and if they send a holding company’s scorecard, many people will regard it as perfectly correct. However a holding company is not the operating company and the codes allow a consolidated scorecard, not necessarily one from the holding company.

The problem with a holding company is its turnover is generally quite small. It receives dividends or management fees from its operating entities. It has large assets – being the value of the businesses it owns, but its turnover may well be less than R5 million. This is how people front.  They produce an EME certificate showing the business to be an EME – level 4, and ignore the operating companies.

On the face if it the certificate is 100% correct. The holding company is indeed an EME. However, who is your supplier? The supplier is the name of the company and the company registration number that appears on the invoice supplied by the supplier to you. This is the operating company, not a holding company.  The certificate you need is the one that uses the operating company’s data, which may well be a generic and non-compliant. When the company is confronted they often feign ignorance or apologise that they supplied the wrong scorecard, and promise to supply the correct one.

This is fronting. It is a deliberate attempt to supply a scorecard that misrepresents the true BEE situation. If you ask for a certificate from your supplier and they give you the wrong certificate, they are fronting and could be guilty of fraud.

Here is a good example: Look at www.zealous.co.za Their web site shows them to have at least two businesses:  Zealous Automotive and Zealous Pressure Castings. The web site reports that Zealous Automotive alone employs 160 employees and the land is 12000m2  . The holding company is Zealous Holdings.  The scorecard for Zealous Holdings (Pty) Ltd, same address, is that of an EME. They are trying to use this certificate as the valid one to all customers. They have to know full well that the holding company does not supply their customers and that it does not earn income.

Simple mistake or deliberate to misrepresent their BEE position?