If ever the adage “crime doesn’t pay” were to apply, it would in the case of global consultancy giant Bain and its association with the state capture project in South Africa.
Having had to pay back the ill-gotten fees it received from state entities during the Jacob Zuma years, Bain has now been banned from doing work with the British government for three years.
This banning from the world’s sixth-largest economy and a key member of the G7 will not only hit Bain in the pocket, but it is also a massive reputational blow. It is the culmination of tireless work by Peter Hain, the South Africa-born former anti-apartheid activist and erstwhile UK Cabinet minister. Hain is now working on getting the same outcome in the US, Bain’s domicile.
Stating that it considered Bain to be “guilty of grave professional misconduct”, the UK’s Cabinet said it had made the decision “after reviewing Bain’s role in alleged state capture and corruption by the former government of South Africa, taking account of the evidence and conclusions of the South African government commission [the Zondo commission]...”
Referring to Bain’s role in the capture of the SA Revenue Service, Zondo said the hollowing out of the “world class institution” was proof and “a clear example of how the private sector colluded with the executive, including president Zuma, to capture an institution that was highly regarded internationally and render it ineffective”.
Zondo’s allusion to the role of the private sector in corruption was critical. It is well accepted that government corruption worldwide is usually in collaboration with private sector partners who want unfair advantage over competitors.
The consequences faced by Bain should send a loud and clear warning to the private sector players who engage in underhand dealings. It should also encourage the South African government to enforce the existing laws and regulations that blacklist corrupt companies.