STATEMENT FROM BAIN & COMPANY ON ITS VOLUNTARY WITHDRAWAL FROM BLSA
Johannesburg – 18 January 2022 – After careful consideration, Bain South Africa has decided to withdraw its membership in Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA). Our membership should not distract from the important work BLSA does on behalf of the business community for the good of South Africa.
We thank the BLSA Board for recognising the changes the firm implemented after the events at SARS, and we will continue to operate with the integrity that BLSA expects.
We accept that through various lapses in leadership and governance, Bain South Africa became an unwitting participant in a process that inflicted serious damage on the South African Revenue Service (SARS), for which we apologise.
We have noted the findings of Part I of the Zondo Commission’s report. Bain is supportive of the Zondo Commission and its work, as well as its important role in helping to end the damaging effects of corruption in South Africa. We are, however, disappointed that Part I of the Commission’s report mischaracterises Bain’s role at SARS:
- While we made mistakes in our work with SARS, we remain confident that we did not in any way wilfully or knowingly support state capture at SARS or elsewhere.
- The report relies heavily on the account of one individual who admitted to having “no first-hand knowledge” of Bain’s work at SARS in his affidavits and testimony to the Commission, and it considers no new facts. The individual was not a Bain employee at the time of the SARS work, which ran from 2015 to 2017. He rejoined the firm in 2019 after having left in 2010.
- We submitted two detailed affidavits to the Zondo Commission, neither of which appear to have been factored into the report.
The law firm Baker McKenzie carried out a thorough investigation on our behalf, which was not limited in any manner. Their investigation was extensive and included a review of more than 250,000 documents as well as 83 interviews conducted with 58 individuals, including former employees. The investigation uncovered no evidence that we intentionally harmed SARS nor that we participated in state capture. This was made public in a statement issued on 17 December 2018.
We have put in place measures to ensure that we don’t repeat our mistakes and continue to work to regain the trust of South Africa. In November 2018 we repaid all fees plus interest that we received for our engagement with SARS. We appointed new senior leadership for our South African business and established an oversight board for our broader African business. We also set up a global risk management team to oversee all public sector work. We have offered full cooperation to enforcement authorities and will continue to do so.
Bain South Africa’s engagement with SARS was a humbling episode. We are deeply sorry for any role that our work may have inadvertently played in what transpired at SARS. Bain is committed to operating with integrity, meeting the high standards our clients expect and making a positive contribution to South Africa.