SA group asks US authorities to probe Bain's work in SA

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Acing Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Acing Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla.
  • A civil society group says it has lodged a complaint with US authorities against Bain & Company following the publication of the first section of the State Capture Inquiry report. 
  • The report found there was evidence that the Johannesburg office of Boston-headquartered consultancy colluded with former President Jacob Zuma to "capture" the SA Revenue Service. 
  • Bain has denied the report's findings, saying it did not "willfully or knowingly" support state capture.

A South African civil society group says it has lodged a complaint against Bain & Company with the US Department of Justice after the State Capture Inquiry report found evidence of a "coordinated agenda" between Bain, former President Zuma and the SA Revenue Service "to seize and restructure" the tax agency. 

"The days of folding our hands and hoping that the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] will effectively pursue prosecutions against corrupt multinationals are over," said Public Interest SA founder and chair Tebogo Khaas in a statement. 

The State Capture Inquiry report, released on Tuesday, recommended that law enforcement agencies probe Bain "with a view to enabling the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whether or not to initiate prosecutions" related to the awarding of contracts to the group.

"The SARS evidence is 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," said the inquiry's chair and acting Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo. He recommended that all Bain's contracts with government departments and organs of state be re-examined.

Khaas said that despite the 2018 Nugent Commission of Inquiry also making adverse findings against the US-headquartered consultancy, the NPA seems to be no closer to initiating prosecutions. 

Public Interest SA's complaint against Bain comes as former UK cabinet minister Lord Peter Hain this week called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban Bain from government business. 

In a letter to Johnson, Hain said the State Capture Inquiry's findings confirmed "the deep concern that the South African authorities have had about Bain's despicable activities in that society".

Report 'mischaracterizes' work 

Bain has sought to rebut the report's findings, saying it mischaracterises the group's role at the revenue collection agency. 

"While we made mistakes in our work with SARS, we remain confident that we did not in any way willfully or knowingly support state capture at SARS or elsewhere," the statement said.

The consultancy's Johannesburg office said the report considered no new facts, and relied heavily on the testimony of a single witness who had "no first-hand knowledge" of Bain's work at SARS. 

"Bain submitted two detailed affidavits to the Commission, neither of which appear to have been factored into the report."

"Bain has offered full cooperation to enforcement authorities and will continue to do so."

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