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BLSA stands firm against critics of Bain and Company

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has maintained its position on the penance of advisory firm Bain and Company against the tide of criticism over its exoneration of the group in the wake of sanctions against it stemming from findings of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has maintained its position on the penance of advisory firm Bain and Company against the tide of criticism over its exoneration of the group in the wake of sanctions against it stemming from findings of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 18, 2022

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BUSINESS Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has maintained its position on the penance of advisory firm Bain and Company against the tide of criticism over its exoneration of the group in the wake of sanctions against it stemming from findings of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

BLSA chief executive Busisiwe Mavuso, in a weekly note, said yesterday that criticism that the business organisation had “embraced” or “defended” Bain following the Zondo Commission was nonsense. “This was certainly no embrace or defence. It reflected our absolutely clear view that our members must reflect the high standards of the integrity pledge that they made to fight against corruption,” Mavuso said.

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Critics, including the Black Business Council, have called for the consultancy Bain & Co to be blacklisted from further government contracts for its role in furthering state capture. This is in contrast to BLSA's stance last week, defending keeping the US management consultancy Bain & Co as a member, saying the firm was not “inherently corrupt”.

“The facts are that in 2018 following revelations at the Nugent Commission, BLSA suspended Bain, adding it to previous suspensions related to state capture, including KPMG, Transnet and Eskom.

“That suspension was directly in response to the actions of Bain at Sars (SA Revenue Service) – the same actions the Zondo Commission has highlighted in its report. BLSA acted swiftly and condemned the misconduct,” Mavuso said.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) chief executive Cas Coovadia said last week the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should investigate all institutions and individuals cited in investigations.

“The NPA must then prosecute in instances where it finds a prima facie case that pertains. Busa has also expressed a willingness to support the NPA in urgently investigating and bringing those found to have aided and abetted state capture to book,” said Coovadia.

Mavuso said yesterday that in the two-and-a-half years after Bain's suspension, BLSA had held several engagements with the firm, which set out its views on what the company had to do to regain the trust of BLSA. It required among other steps that Bain pay back all the fees it took from Sars with interest.

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Justice Zondo found Bain had colluded with former State President Jacob Zuma in a purge of key officials at Sars, and he called for all of Bain's public sector work to be re-examined. “At no point did we say refunding the fees should be the end of it,” Mavuso said.

Bain has also met with the BLSA board and outlined all the institutional reforms it had undertaken. “Bain convinced us that these were material and would allow it to again meet the standards we expect of it. The question was whether Bain could meet the requirements of our integrity pledge and our view, which was not developed lightly, was ‘yes',” Mavuso said.

“That in no way detracts from the issues at Sars. To say that an institution now has in place the appropriate processes and structures obviously does not amount to a claim that it always did and that it somehow should be absolved from consequences for past acts. We have on numerous occasions said that the executives who were involved in the state capture project should be brought to book,” she said.

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