Bain asks Treasury to overturn public work ban, says it's based on 'unproven allegations'

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Bain & Co. was last month barred from tendering for public contracts for 10 years.
Bain & Co. was last month barred from tendering for public contracts for 10 years.
Rafael Henrique/Getty Images
  • Bain & Co. has written to the government asking that its public work ban be overturned. 
  • Last month Bain SA was placed on a database of suppliers that cannot do work for the state. 
  • The consultancy says it has been "singled out" and the ban is based on "unproven allegations".
  • For more finance news, go to the News24 Business front page.

Consultancy Bain & Co, which has been banned from public sector work for a decade for engaging in "corrupt and fraudulent practices" at the SA Revenue Service (SARS), has written to National Treasury, SARS and the minister of finance to ask that the ban be overturned. 

"There is no evidence that Bain SA engaged in any 'corrupt and fraudulent' practices," Bain said on Thursday, adding that the ban is "fundamentally flawed". 

National Treasury placed Bain SA on its Database for Restricted Suppliers last month, after a referral by SARS. This is a list maintained by Treasury that names companies prohibited from tendering for government contracts.

The ban will only expire in 2032. 

The decision to place Bain on the database came about seven weeks after the UK government banned the consultancy from competing for state contracts for three years.

READ | Emails confirm 'informal partnership' between Bain, Gupta-linked Trillian

Bain, which has initiated legal action to overturn the UK ban, said on Thursday it has been singled out based on "unproven allegations and without due process".

"Bain SA was not notified that SARS was considering imposing a restriction and was not provided with an opportunity to make representations or provide reasons why the restriction should not be imposed and according to the law, we should have been," it said. 

"This was despite the fact the decision was apparently reached almost three weeks before we were notified."

Bain did not say whether it would take legal action to overturn the ban. It has asked Treasury and SARS to overturn the ban and arrange a meeting to "discuss a potential path forward".

Findings against Bain 

Two commissions of inquiry appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa have investigated Bain's work at SARS.

In 2018 the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance at SARS, better known as the Nugent Commission, found that former SARS boss Tom Moyane used Bain as part of a "premeditated offensive" against the tax agency. 

"Moyane's interest was to take control of SARS. Bain's interest was to make money. This was not a plan for mere succession in public service," said retired Judge Robert Nugent. 

READ | 'It's not just SARS': Bain whistleblower says consultancy must come clean on other state contracts

Nugent found that Bain planned a root-and-branch overhaul at SARS before it set foot in the agency.

"Quite clearly, Bain was in search of business, and a 'profound transformation' of SARS would do, whatever the existing situation at SARS," he said. 

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture found that Bain colluded with Moyane and former president Jacob Zuma to "capture" SARS in a bid to weaken it.

Zondo recommended that authorities investigate all Bain's contracts with South African departments for potential wrongdoing.

While Bain has acknowledged "significant errors in the procurement and execution of our work at SARS", it has consistently denied "wilfully or knowingly" supporting state capture. 

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