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Bain develops thick skin against critics of its state capture role

Following the release of the first report by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo last week, which wagged a finger on the firm originating from the US, governance activists including the UK's Lord Peter Hain (pictured), have called for more stringent action against Bain and other businesses implicated for facilitating state capture. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Following the release of the first report by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo last week, which wagged a finger on the firm originating from the US, governance activists including the UK's Lord Peter Hain (pictured), have called for more stringent action against Bain and other businesses implicated for facilitating state capture. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 12, 2022

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GLOBAL consultancy group Bain & Company is sticking to its guns about having done its penance after the restitution of close to R200 million it earned for its role in the state capture fiasco.

Pressure is mounting both locally and internationally for the US originating firm to be held accountable for its role in state capture as its executives were closely aligned with state capture principals and reportedly advised on the mechanics of siphoning billions of rands from state-owned enterprises and National Treasury.

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Bain's Nicola Wilson said in response to enquiries on its response to the Zondo report, "While we made mistakes in our work with Sars (SA Revenue Service), we remain confident that we did not in any way wilfully or knowingly support state capture at Sars or elsewhere. There are no new facts considered in this report; the report relies heavily on the affidavit and testimony of one witness who admitted to having “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."

Following the release of the first report by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo last week, which wagged a finger on the firm originating from the US, governance activists including the UK's Lord Peter Hain, have called for more stringent action against Bain and other businesses implicated for facilitating state capture.

Bain said while it supported the Commission and its work, it was disappointed that the first part of the report mischaracterised Bain's role at Sars.

Business Leadership South Africa (Blsa) has also drawn fire for seemingly exonerating Bain after chief execusive Busi Mavuso, in her weekly note said the current leadership runs the company ethically within an appropriate governance framework, and there is nothing in the Zondo Commission report that suggests otherwise.

Mavuso said Bain's flagellation included the appointment of an independent board chairperson, the implementation of risk protocols for public sector clients, increased level of oversight by Bain & Company international, proper client analysis and oversight on procurement processes.

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Whistle-blower Athol Williams, who has since fled to the UK for safety, blasted Blsa for siding with the group.

"The organisation claims that corruption should be “rooted out, crushed and punished”, yet stands by its decision to offer Bain legitimacy of membership, even after the commission outlined the detail of Bain's collusion with Jacob Zuma and Tom Moyane in “one of the clearest demonstrations of the patterns of state capture” and its involvement in “procurement corruption”.

Lord Hain, in various media yesterday agitated for the scrapping of licences of the companies implicated in the state capture saga.

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Hains said while Bain claimed to have repaid R168m to Sars, more than R2bn siphoned from state coffers was still outstanding.

"Bain operated unlawfully, they were utterly shameless in the advice they gave. I do not think the British Government needs to allow companies that operated unlawfully elsewhere in the world to continue to operate here in Britain, the same goes for the US and European Union or anywhere else for that matter," Hain said.

This is as Bain's South Africa former chief executive Vittorio Massone, largely credited for state capture strategies, is now working in Milan, Italy, as executive director of Alkemy, despite being the mover behind the management consultancy's capture of Sars.

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