Op-Ed

‘The United Kingdom must ensure that no contracts are awarded to Hogan Lovells’

By Peter Hain 21 May 2018

Hogan Lovells turned a blind eye to the looting of the tax agency. They took a fat fee and ignored the truth.

 

 


This is the speech that Lord Peter Hain delivered in the House of Lords on Monday, 21 May 2018

This week marks South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first 100 days in office.

But the official state money laundering and corruption virus he inherited from President Zuma is significantly more virulent and pervasive than even Ramaphosa could have anticipated, made immeasurably worse by the complicity of UK-based global corporates.

Take Hogan Lovells, the international law firm head-quartered here in London and in Washington, its role starkly exposed in documents recently released to the Parliamentary Finance Committee in South Africa.

In your Lordships House, at a Report on this Bill on 15 January, I first criticised their role for whitewashing corruption by Tom Moyane, chief of the South African Revenue Services, now suspended by the President. According to these documents, Hogan Lovells kept silent even when its findings related to money laundering and corruption by Moyane’s former deputy, Jonas Makwakwa, and even after Moyanemisled the South African Parliament.

Through its despicable, fee-grabbing, complicity, Hogan Lovells spared these two notorious perpetrators of State Capture in South Africa from accountability for their complicity in, and cover up of, serious criminal behaviour, including money laundering and corruption. At the same time Hogan Lovells has been undermining the criminal justice system in a series of other cases, as proven by the fearless Forensics for Justice NGO investigator, Paul O’Sullivan. Effectively, Hogan Lovells was acting as former president Jacob Zuma’s legal fudger-in-chief.

Brave investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk has exposed lies by the Senior Partner of Hogan Lovells in South Africa, Mr Lavery Modise. In the Daily Maverick she pointed out:

Despite having the benefit of the report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (who actually conducted the investigation), Modise and his team ultimately charged Makwakwa with everything he could explain, and with exactly nothing that he previously struggled to explain or simply refused to account for.” Indeed the more serious allegations in the PWC Report were carefully filtered out of Hogan Lovells’ Report, and the firm did not point out that Moyane was preventing critical evidence from being given to PWC.

Hogan Lovells’ most specious piece of lawyer sophistry was to claim that they could only look at the employer-employee issue involved and not at any criminal issue, giving the excuse that the employee, Makwakwa, could otherwise implicate himself. Surely all good employers and indeed employees, should report on any criminality at their workplace? Surely even more so in the vital state revenue agency when the crime relates to money laundering and tax evasion?

Effectively Hogan Lovells turned a blind eye to the looting of the tax agency. They took a fat fee and ignored the truth. Most astonishing to me is that Hogan Lovells still refuses to acknowledge, let alone apologise for, their complicity, thereby actively supporting those trying to undermine President Ramaphosa’s reform programme.

Hogan Lovells’ behaviour in South Africa is a classic example of a British-based company obfuscating its behaviour, using the complexities afforded by the law, including client confidentiality, to conceal the crimes of money laundering and corruption. Hogan Lovells fits exactly the behaviour exposed by investigator Pauli van Wyk when she concluded: “The story of State Capture… co-exists in a mutually parasitic relationship where the public purse is the feeding ground and corporates are the enablers and agents of whitewash.”

British-based corporates like Hogan Lovells should be supporting, not thwarting, President Ramaphosa’s anti-money laundering agenda.

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority has now declared that Hogan Lovells South Africa is a “connected party” to its UK firm and I, therefore, request that the SRA withdraws recognition from Hogan Lovells UK and suspends its UK senior partners from practising here for its scandalous activities in South Africa.

I also ask the British Ministers to ensure that Hogan Lovells UK receives no more public sector contracts until it at least apologises for its shameful and shameless South African role.

Additionally, I can report that, after I raised this matter on Second Reading in November, the Financial Conduct Authority has recently informed me it is engaging with the whistle-blower who has supplied evidence that I believe should see HSBC prosecuted for conspiracy for facilitating money laundering.

Unless ministers ensure that there are penalties for UK-based corporates like Hogan Lovells, HSBC, the Bank of Baroda, Standard Chartered, Bell Pottinger, KPMG, McKinsey – and who knows how many others – for their complicity in protecting criminals engaged in money laundering in the South African case, this legislation is not worth a candle. DM

See the Makwakwa dossier: Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here

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