EXCLUSIVE: Boycott Hogan Lovells - Peter Hain
JOHANNESBURG - UK politician, Lord Peter Hain has called for the boycott of Hogan Lovells, the global law firm which has been accused of enabling the Gupta family in state capture.
The South African born veteran anti-apartheid stalwart told Business Report in an exclusive interview last week that it was because of that reason that he had reported the firm to the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
He said the firm was complicit in undermining the country's tax-collection agency, as well as being a constituent in helping former president Jacob Zuma, his business associates, and the Gupta brothers in perverting South Africa’s democracy and robbing taxpayers.
Hain said that the law firm should be treated in the same way that HSBC, Mckinsey, KPMG, Standard Chartered Bank were following their links to the controversial family.
He said some firms had apologised for being complicit in corruption, by earning fees from corrupt sources; and in the case of the banks, being contingent in money laundering by the Gupta's and the Zuma's.
"They [the firms] came to see me, to explain how they are cleaning up their act and why they're not going to do this again," Hain said.
Hain tabled concerns over the law firm producing a “fatally flawed whitewash” report into claims of money laundering at the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
Forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan has supported Hain's allegation, saying the Hogan Lovells created an enabling environment for state capture to thrive.
Hogan Lovells South Africa's chairman Lavery Modise has however dismissed Hain's allegations as " hogwash."
Hain said the firm was behaving in a very "legalistic and narrow fashion", rather than understanding the big picture.
"What is important to me is not whether the apology is 100% fulsome, what matters is they've admitted that they did wrong and [recognising] they've not got to put it right".
Answering the question of whether it was too late for Hogan Lovells to admit and remedy their complicity, Hain said: "I think the reputational damage has already been done, they is a lot of recovery [needed] and the best way for them to recover their reputation is to do what I have asked them, and others as well, to do - and that is using their immense expertise to help sort this problem out and stop it ever happening in the future.
"I'm not interested in wriggling conversation with them, I'm interested in [them] being truthful and accounting for what they've done. Then we can talk, then we can bring them into the fold of solving the problem that they've been apart of."
Hain said both KPMG and Mckinsey told him that they wished to participate in efforts to combat state capture and that he expected them to honour that agreement.
He said he believed that they could help in tracking some of the money as they had the expertise and forensic capabilities to do so.,
“Help the new South African state put in procedures over tenders, over contracts for consultancy - whatever it may be - to stop this [corruption] from happening again.”
He said Hogan Lovells was setting itself apart.
“My message to Hogan Lovells is that all of their clients should now withdraw their business, until Hogan Lovells accepts that what they've done is wrong, admits it and puts it right and tell us what they're going to do in the future.
''I think a boycott of Hogan Lovells would be a very good thing. Their reputation has already been badly damaged by their own behaviour. What they should have done is learned from KPMG, Mckinsey and SAP, Standard Chartered; learn from those who have been implicated and who've suffered big reputational damage."
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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE