South Africa

South Africa

State Capture: Lord Hain refuses meeting with Hogan Lovells until firm admits wrongdoing and apologises

Earlier in January Lord Peter Hain delivered a stinging attack in the House of Lords on international law firm Hogan Lovells for its tailored handling of SARS No 2 Jonas Makwakwa’s disciplinary hearing with regard to alleged money laundering and which ultimately exonerated him. And while Hogan Lovells South Africa has subsequently requested a meeting with Hain, he has declined, saying further evidence of the firm’s involvement in defending individuals implicated in State Capture will soon be made public. By MARIANNE THAMM.

In his submission to the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority with regard to international law firm Hogan Lovells’ involvement in shielding those implicated in the capture of the state in South Africa, Lord Hain has included a 19-page dossier by Paul O’Sullivan’s Forensics for Justice.

In this document, addressed to Hogan Lovells’ London Regional Managing Partner, Susan Bright, O’Sullivan details other instances in which the firm has acted on behalf of individuals in South Africa’s criminal justice system who are linked to the capture of the state. He lists that the firm acted for former Minster of Police Nathi Nhleko as well as former Hawks head, Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza.

The fight against capture would have been finished two or three years ago, were it not for Hogan Lovells clients propping up a criminally illegitimate regime, headed by a corrupt State President and his accomplices,” O’Sullivan wrote.

Nhleko was responsible for illegally suspending former Hawks head Anwar Dramat as well as IPID director Robert McBride. Ntlemeza illegally suspended former Gauteng Hawks Head Shadrack Sibiya as well as KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major-General Johan Booysen. Nhleko and Ntlemeza both contracted Hogan Lovells to defend their actions, which they lost. The legal costs were carried by taxpayers.

With regards to the SARS Jonas Makwakwa disciplinary, O’Sullivan wrote to Bright, saying: “We do not accept your excuse that you were not appointed by Moyane. SARS is a state organ and although a juristic body, has no personality. Moyane is the personality of SARS and breathed life into the work that Hogan Lovells purportedly carried out for SARS.”

Meanwhile, Lavery Modise, Chair of Hogan Lovells South Africa, has written to Hain suggesting that they meet “to share the facts of our engagement with the South African Revenue Services”.

Modise suggests that he is willing to fly to London.

In your email to Susan you also say how disturbing it is that Hogan Lovells has not apologised for its role in SARS. When we meet we can address the concerns you have raised. We are very clear that we have acted in accordance with our professional responsibilities and with full integrity throughout,” wrote Modise.

He added that he would like to “strongly underscore that I and the other members of my firm share your concerns over corruption and State Capture in South Africa”.

The firm, Modise tells Hain, has undertaken work in both the commercial and pro bono spheres, for example as part of the Rule of Law Task Team “which has set an agenda to review legislation which does not comply with the rule of law and to educate the public on democracy and basic constitutional principles”.

The firm was also instrumental, says Modise, in securing a win in the Constitutional Court for the South African Traders Association during operation Clean Sweep when 3,000 informal traders were removed from their trading posts in the inner city of Johannesburg.

Hain replied to Modise that he saw no point in meeting “whilst Hogan Lovells continues to deny the wrongdoing I set out in my speech on 15 November, the detail of which you have not rebutted in your various outspoken media repudiations. I stand by what I said in the UK Parliament”.

Hain added that it was extremely troubling that, while other global firms – Bell Pottinger, McKinsey, KPMG, SAP, HSBC etc – had eventually admitted their complicity, apologised and attempted to take steps that it would not recur, “Hogan Lovells has still not learnt from this, with all the reputational damage that invites for you.

I have readily met most of those firms and had constructive discussions on how to take things forward, but only because their stance was diametrically different from yours,” said Hain.

In his note to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Hain writes: “I trust the SRA will censure Hogan Lovells at the very least and preferably take the action I requested, namely to debar them and to suspend their senior partners until they have apologised and taken the necessary remedial actions. I cannot stress too highly how important this is to the now revamped drive against state corruption in South Africa.” DM

PhotoPeter Hain speaks to reporters upon his arrival for the third day of the Labour Party conference, in Liverpool, Britain, 27 September 2016. Photo: EPA/JON SUPER