In the last few years, there have been various issues with BEE verification agencies who have not complied with the legal requirements for issuing BEE verification certificates to businesses. As a result, there has been a notable crack down on BEE verification agencies. The latest of such measures is the draft statement 005 drawn up in terms of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Act and gazetted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on 21 July 2017.

In terms of the draft statement, the DTI’s BEE Unit is appointed as the BEE Verification Professional Regulator (Regulator) The draft statement also confirms the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) as the BEE Accreditation Body. The Regulator and SANAS, will now, respectively, have the final say over whether a BEE Verification Professional and BEE Verification Agency is awarded accreditation.

If the amendments are adopted in their present form, new standards will be set for the governance of the BEE verification industry as a whole. Amongst others, standards are specified for ethical conduct of verification professionals/rating agencies, their education and accreditation. For example, verification agencies would need to be at least 51% Black owned, based on the flow-through principle, in order to be accredited. They would further have to be BEE rated, regardless of whether they can claim automatic recognition or not; and must be able to demonstrate transformation through being rated as a level one to three BEE Contributor, within 12 months from the date on which the amendments take effect.

To meet the accreditation standards for BEE verification agencies, applicant entities must have completed specified training and comply with the relevant verification manual, gazetted notices and any other guidance issued by the DTI.

The proposed amendments also outline the establishment and maintenance of an official database containing every rating certificate issued by a verification agency. The intention is that this database would assist organisations during their procurement processes, in finding verified BEE certificates of potential suppliers more easily. To ensure the database remains current, verification agencies would be required to upload every certificate they issue to a central portal.

The proposed amendments further seek to introduce measures to guard against the use of fraudulent BEE certificates issued by unscrupulous agencies, and to increase clarity with regards to a business’ BEE status.

Interested parties have 60 days to submit comments on the draft amendments to the DTI.