Bain withdraws from Business Leadership SA, apologises for aiding state capture

The US firm has been tied to alleged controversies in recent years related to work it had done for the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

FILE: Bain and Company then left BLSA in 2018, but made a return last year. Picture: monticello/123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - Controversial consultancy firm, Bain and Company, has announced on Tuesday its withdrawal from Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA).

The US firm has been tied to alleged corruption in recent years related to work it had done for the South African Revenue Service (Sars), pocketing millions in what was subsequently revealed at the Zondo Inquiry as acts that allegedly aided state capture.

Bain and Company then left BLSA in 2018, but made a return last year.

Last week on The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield, BLSA defended its decision to keep Bain and Company as a member, saying the firm wasn't "inherently corrupt".

Why is BLSA defending Bain despite the Zondo inquiry’s findings?

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Bain and Company said it accepted that through various lapses in leadership and governance, Bain South Africa became an "unwitting participant in a process that inflicted serious damage" on Sars, for which it has apologised.

Bain also said that while it noted the release of part one of the state capture report, it disputes that it in any way "willfully or knowingly supported state capture at Sars or elsewhere".

It said the inquiry relied 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 considered no new facts.

"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 said.

Meanwhile, BLSA has offered financial support to the National Prosecuting Authority in its probe of fraud and corruption cases emanating from the state capture inquiry.