Ex-partner hired to fix Bain South Africa turns against firm
INTERNATIONAL - A former partner at Bain & Co.’s South African business said he will testify to a commission investigating graft in the country about the firm’s involvement in allegedly trying to facilitate corrupt dealings.
Athol Williams plans to detail his concerns that Bain may have tried to clear a path for government officials and politically connected individuals to plunder state resources, known locally as state capture, he said in an email on Thursday. The company’s involvement in state capture possibly went beyond that of their role in advising on the restructuring of the country’s tax authority, Williams said.
Williams resigned within six months of being appointed to oversee the consultancy’s remedial action in the country after Bain said its work for the South African Revenue Service was a “serious failure.” He suspected the company was trying to cover up the full extent of its role in facilitating corruption because it refused to provide him with an investigative report and notes taken during interviews with employees, he said.
“We will never get to the bottom of state capture if those with information remain silent,” Williams said. “In all my dealings with Bain I have always made it abundantly clear that I would always do what is right for South Africa. Speaking up is a continuing fulfillment of this commitment.”
While no date has been set for William’s testimony before a judicial commission led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, he said he has been in contact with the commission’s investigators as recently as Wednesday.
The ethics and corporate-responsibility lecturer alleges Bain offered to let him keep his 2 million rand ($140,000) sign-on fee, to pay for his move to the U.K. so he could conclude his PhD, and to provide him with paid-for consulting work provided he did not talk publicly about the company.
Johannesburg-based newspaper Business Day reported on Williams' allegations earlier on Thursday.
Bain told Business Day it doesn’t comment on former employees. Bain’s South African office is closed until Jan. 6 and company representatives based in Johannesburg and London didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.