JOHANNESBURG – The final report on malfeasance at the South African Revenue Service (Sars) has hit out at the conduct of consulting firm Bain & Company for enabling its near-collapse.
In a scathing report, Judge Robert Nugent said Bain had let down the people of South Africa. Evidence before the commission told a disturbing story about Bain and the work it did on the ill-fated restructuring of Sars after now-fired Sars commissioner Tom Moyane took over in 2014.
“The commission will decide for itself whether the truth has been told, but the way Bain went about things gives us no confidence that the full truth will indeed be told,” said Nugent.
“Nothing makes it more plain that Bain has withheld, and continues to withhold, information from the commission, than the preliminary report prepared by Mr Athol Williams, from which it is apparent that even he has yet to be told where the truth lies.”
Bain in September appointed Williams to oversee its internal investigation into the work it did for Sars after its internal review “established that our engagement with Sars did not meet our standard for delivery.”
Bain could not be reached for comment on the final commission of enquiry report. The firm has, however, undertaken to pay back the more than R150 million Sars paid to it. Nugent has, however, said the repayment of the fees amounted to a publicity stunt and that Bain should make a full disclosure to the South African public. Nugent said Moyane’s interest was to take control of Sars, while Bain was only interested in making money at the expense of the revenue service.
“We think that what occurred can be fairly described as a premeditated offensive against Sars, strategised by the local office of Bain & Company Inc, located in Boston, for Mr Moyane to seize Sars, each in pursuit of their own interests that were symbiotic, but not altogether the same.”
Nugent has recommended that the national director of public prosecutions should consider prosecutions in connection with the award of the Bain & Co contract.
Solly Tshitangano, the procurement officer from the National Treasury, told the commission in September that the speed at which Bain’s services were procured suggested that it was approached beforehand and was aware of the scope of the tender before other consultancies were briefed.
Fired Bain South Africa managing director Vittorio Massone has admitted that he had met former President Jacob Zuma and Moyane long before the latter was appointed to head Sars.
The report has recommended that Moyane’s yet-to-be-named successor undertake a performance review of executive committee members appointed by Moyane.
The report has also called for sweeping changes into how the Sars commissioner is appointed and how the agency is run.
Nugent has recommended that the candidate or candidates of the choice of the president or minister should be subjected to interview by an “apolitical panel comprising persons of high standing who inspire confidence across the tax-paying spectrum.”
In what will be a groundbreaking move, the report has also “strongly” called for the creation of an inspector-general role to look into the affairs of Sars, while the establishment of an oversight board has also been recommended.
Nugent also wants Sars to attempt recruiting former senior employees who were fired and resigned under Moyane’s reign.