AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Peter Hain slams UK government ‘copping out’ by lifting ban on Bain & Co
Hain said Bain had used its ‘ill-gotten gains’ to fund a campaign of fake apologies ’while secretly concealing evidence of its vast network of deceit in South Africa’.
Britain’s Lord Peter Hain has deplored the UK government’s sudden decision to lift the three-year ban it imposed on the global consultancy firm Bain & Co last year. The ban on doing business with the UK government was because of its complicity in State Capture in South Africa.
On Tuesday, Jeremy Quin, minister for the Cabinet Office and HM paymaster general, told Parliament in a statement that his government was lifting the ban – more than two years early.
In August last year, after strong lobbying from Hain, the then Cabinet Office minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, imposed the three-year ban – retrospective to 1 January 2022 – on Bain.
Bain launched a legal challenge to the ban as well as a public relations campaign to try to clear its name, which has evidently paid off. Quin said his government was lifting the ban because Bain had “cooperated with our investigations, and have provided considerable additional information on their self-cleansing actions.
“They have also agreed to a period of rigorous monitoring for a minimum of two years, during which their continued compliance will be assessed.
“Given the progress made since the exclusion, we can confirm that while Bain & Company South Africa, Inc. will remain excluded from UK Government business, Bain & Company, Inc. and its affiliates outside of South Africa are no longer excluded from bidding for government work.”
Hain told Daily Maverick the UK government had “copped out” instead of increasing the pressure on Bain.
It had done this despite South African authorities continuing to uncover new evidence of Bain’s corrupt behaviour relating to the SA Revenue Service and Telkom and of its dealings with the Gupta family.
“Bain has launched a global spin campaign to portray itself as the victim, while it holds on to the millions earned from its public contracts in South Africa, deemed ‘unlawful’ by the country’s Chief Justice.”
Hain said Bain had used its “ill-gotten gains” to fund a campaign of fake apologies “while secretly concealing evidence of its vast network of deceit in South Africa”.
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Bain also continued to retaliate against its former partner Athol Williams, who blew the whistle on the company’s work with former president Jacob Zuma and the Guptas.
But Quin said that following “robust and intensive dialogue” with Bain & Company, “we have concluded that Bain & Company, Inc. and its affiliates outside of South Africa, including both Bain & Company, Inc. United Kingdom and BuyingTeam Limited (trading as Proxima), can bid for UK Government work.
“Since the exclusion decision in August 2022, Bain & Company have responded by producing detailed evidence of the measures they have taken internally (including related to the way Bain & Company handles bids for UK Government work), which was not available to the Cabinet Office previously.”
The decision to lift the ban was “subject to a regular and thorough period of close monitoring, for a minimum of two years, so we can be satisfied that the company continues to uphold the measures they have now put in place”.
Quin noted that Bain & Company South Africa would remain excluded from bidding for UK Government procurements until 4 January 2025, “given the findings of the Zondo Commission on its prior involvement with the South African Revenue Service.
“Bain & Company South Africa has acknowledged it did not fully clarify the facts and circumstances regarding its work for the South African Revenue Service in a comprehensive manner.
“Bain & Company has previously apologised for the fact that Bain & Company South Africa’s work in South Africa contributed to damaging a critical public institution and acknowledged that its cooperation with investigating authorities fell short.”
Quin added that the UK government would review any new information which came to light about the decision to continue banning Bain & Company South Africa,
This would include “any potential reconsideration by the South African Government of their decision to ban Bain & Company South Africa”.
As Hain pointed out, the Zondo Commission had ruled that Bain had “colluded with former president Zuma to undermine the country’s state institutions, paving the way for public funds to be siphoned off into private pockets”.
This included Bain deliberately advising Zuma at his personal request on how to disable SARS. DM