Bain back in hot seat as SARS inquiry resumes

Management consulting firm Bain & Company will be back in the hot seat as the Nugent Commission of Inquiry resumes in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The company which helped design the South African Revenue Service's controversial operating model which has been blamed for crippling the organisation has admitted that its work may have been used to “further a political or personal agenda”.

The operating structure which is at the centre of the inquiry probing tax and governance issues at SARS was ordered by suspended tax chief Tom Moyane.

The restructure which was implemented in 2014 led to the shutting of key tax units and resulted in a dip in revenue collection.

Bain Managing Partner Vittorio Massone will be the first to give evidence, following his startling revelation last month that Moyane had sought information on SARS prior to his appointment to the position of commissioner in 2013.

In his early testimony, Massone told the inquiry that there was not reason given by Moyane for the restructure, and blamed its failure on implementation by SARS. He also refused that the company was to blame for the damage caused by the overhaul.

Under fire from being seen as having a hand in the collapse of one of the country’s key institution, Bain early this month announced they will return the R164m they received from SARS in service fees.

But the company said it was "deeply sorry" for how its work turned out, adding: "We wish we had known then what we do now" – after initially refusing to apologise. 

Solly Tshitangano, the director of compliance and monitoring at the National Treasury will also return to the give evidence.

Tshitangano’s previously detailed how the Bain contract had raised a number of red flags, including irregular tender process.

A number of SARS officials are also due to give evidence over the next three days, including Yousuf Denath, senior manager in the fraud investigations unit, Luther Lebelo, who heads employment relations and former criminal investigator Ronel van Wyk.

Van Wyk, an experienced investigator, resigned from SARS in November 2017. 

News24 reported that Van Wyk was at the time of her departure being investigated by an internal anti-corruption unit headed by Yegan Mundie. The controversial unit was tasked with investigating SARS staff in connection with fraud.

The inquiry will proceed until Friday.

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