Bain 'fixer' Williams: 'I've been through hell the last 2 months'


Athol Williams, the man that consulting firm Bain & Co hired to clean up its image following its controversial role at the SA Revenue Service, says his life has been a living hell over the past two months – and that’s why he’s approached the Zondo Commission to testify against the company.

Bain in December apologised for the work it did with SARS, saying that in hindsight there was evidence to suggest that the tax agency's former commissioner Tom Moyane "was pursuing a personal political agenda". 

Williams publicly resigned from Bain on October 17, accusing the company of withholding information during its participation in the Nugent Inquiry, which was investigating the demise of the tax agency.

But Williams issued a statement five days later, saying he had "no evidence that Bain was involved in a scheme to damage SARS" and no additional information about the company being untruthful.

Other plots, other institutions

On Thursday, Williams told Fin24 that he was not making an about-turn then or now, and he's alleging that that he has evidence that the company was involved in a plot to capture other public institutions.

"I don't have additional evidence regarding SARS, but I do have evidence on other institutions," said Williams.

Fin24 reached out to Bain for comment regarding these allegations, but received no response to phone calls or text messages by the time of publication.

When Williams resigned in October, however, it said its internal investigation did not find any evidence that the firm or any of its partners were involved in any scheme to damage SARS or that Bain withheld relevant evidence.

According to Williams, these "other institutions" to which he referred were existing state institutions, as well as new ones intended to be formed, but which ultimately were not.

Williams, who did not want to elaborate further about the said institutions, said he's met with the state capture commission several times.

He added that he has given them his final report on Bain's role in the restructuring of SARS, which he completed after the Nugent Commission had already concluded its investigation. He only submitted a preliminary report to the Nugent Commission.

The Nugent commission's report of 2018 said there were two corruption schemes that Bain was part of at SARS. The smaller scheme was Bain's attainment of the tender to restructure SARS irregularly. The larger one "can be described as (a) premeditated offensive against SARS, strategised by the local office of Bain & Company, located in Boston, for Mr (Tom) Moyane [previous SARS commissioner] to seize SARS", read the report.

It also said Bain withheld evidence, a statement Williams corroborated.

'I've been through hell'

"But I don't want to talk about SARS, I want to talk about South Africa. My interest is not only in Bain, but in what multinational companies are doing in our country, but yes, the evidence I have is only on Bain," said Williams.

He said when he wrote that statement in October, Bain was involved in drafting it. At the time, he agreed to not divulge any more information to the media or anyone else because the company said it needed time "to do the right thing", said Williams.

He said since then, the company has made offers to pay for his relocation to the UK as he wanted to do his PhD there, and threatened him with legal action when he insisted on seeing it "do the right thing" as it had promised.

"We don't talk about what happens to whistleblowers.

"I've been through hell in the past two months. I'm being threatened. I'm paying legal fees," claims Williams.

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